What is Christian Ordinary TIme?

Traditions and Meaning of the Long Green Season



Ordinary Time (as opposed to sacred time) refers to two specific periods in the Christian calendar in which the occurring Sundays are not directly related to the Christmas or Easter holidays. Rather than referring to something everyday or common, "ordinary," in this sense, comes from the word ordinal (meaning "numbered"), referencing the manner in which the Sundays of the period are numbered. The term was coined at the Second Vatican Council, taking effect with after the Season of Advent in AD 1969.

Colors and Focus
The color green is most often associated with the two periods of Ordinary Time, and can generally be found in the sanctuary during these portions of the liturgical year. It is usually considered a symbol of the Church's growth and rebirth. In this spirit, Scriptural readings during these periods sometimes focus on the annual Synoptic Gospel or on themes of local interest or import to the congregation.

Time after Epiphany and Septuagesima The first period of Ordinary Time falls between the first Sunday after Epiphany (on or around January 6th) and Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Season of Lent. This liturgical season can last anywhere from four to nine weeks, depending upon the year. This portion of Ordinary time replaces the traditional Seasons of "Time After Epiphany" and "Septuagesima," which are still in use by some traditional Catholics. Many Protestants also use the older terminology, and tend to begin the season on January 6th.

Time after Pentecost
The second part of Ordinary Time begins after the Easter Season, on Pentecost Monday, and ends on the Saturday before the First Sunday of Advent. For traditional Catholics, this season begins on Trinity Sunday.

Before the Roman liturgical calendar was reformed at the Second Vatican Council, the Sundays in this part of the year were listed as "Sundays after Pentecost" by Roman Catholics, and some Protestants also continue to support the older terminology. Trinity Sunday (the Sunday after Pentecost) takes place in this span of time. The remainder of the liturgical year after Trinity Sunday is known as the Trinity season in Roman Catholicism. Anglicans either refer to this as the Season after Pentecost or the Season after Trinity, or, informally, the "Long Green Season," referring to the period's traditional color.

Although not the focus of the liturgical calendar, for Christians of all denominations Ordinary Time remains an important part of the ecclesiastical year, one in which they can live in the spirit of life and rebirth and continue in the work of the church.

Written by: Bob Robertson

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