One of the characteristics of Catholicism—indeed, of any liturgically-oriented church—is that the pattern of our worship follows a cycle of feasts and seasons. Our seasons run like this: Advent, which starts right after Thanksgiving; Christmas, which begins on Christmas Eve; a brief period of Ordinary Time, followed by Lent, Triduum, the Easter Season, and then a long stretch of Ordinary Time.
What is Ordinary Time? We usually define it by what it’s not. It’s the season when there’s no other season going on. If seasons were flavors, Ordinary Time would be vanilla. Of course, as any good cook will tell you, vanilla has its own, often underrated flavor, with its own nuances and characteristics.
To my way of thinking, Ordinary Time is the most challenging season. The prayers and scriptures chosen for Ordinary Time emphasize living and growing in discipleship. Just as Advent stresses preparation and anticipation, and Lent focuses on repentence, Ordinary Time asks us to grow deeper into the mystery of our faith every day. The focus of our Sunday celebrations throughout this season will be on following Christ every day, taking the sacraments we celebrate on Sundays, and allowing them to enrich and guide our day-to-day lives, and completing the circle by bringing those daily experiences back to the altar the following Sunday.
So, it’s a little tricky to call this season merely ordinary. It’s a long celebration of the wonders that God works every day, and the challenges of following Christ with our lives. There’s nothing “ordinary” about that.