Our Work in Ordinary Time

By Jennifer Gregory Miller (bio - articles - email) | Feb 26, 2017

There are two and half weeks remaining before Lent begins.

I’m actually not writing about preparing for Lent, but about living in the present moment in this Tempus per Annum, Time of the Year or Ordinary Time. There are only two and a half weeks remaining for this first part of Ordinary Time, but that is enough time to contemplate what does this time mean for one’s spiritual life?

A few years ago I explained a little about what is Ordinary Time in Our Ordinary Walk of Life: Understanding Tempus per Annum, but it seems this “Ordinary Time” is still misunderstood. I read so many comments regarding Ordinary Time with similar thoughts of seeing it as a break to catch up from the previous liturgical seasons. “I’m so relieved it’s Ordinary Time. I need the rest.”

I find that opinion interesting, because as I have said before, Ordinary Time is Not So Ordinary. It is our standard usual way of living. In the Church’s definition of Ordinary it is the unchanging usual form, applied in terms like the Ordinary of the Mass, or the Ordinary Form. It is not really a liturgical season, but the “Time of the Year” when there is no overarching narrative or theme of Christ’s Life or a pattern of preparation or celebration like Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. The Liturgy presents the Faith as a whole, not with particular themes. Ordinary Time is returning to our regularly scheduled program of life.

For me, resuming the standard way of life isn’t always restful. It’s actually harder than when motivated by the liturgical seasons of preparation and celebration. After the Christmas decorations are returned to storage, it is time for our daily work. There are no glittering ornaments or glow of lights or holiday parties to break up some of the daily monotony. Our morning offering to God really reflects this time. We are offering our “prayers, works, joys and sufferings” especially on those days when it’s so hard to get up in the morning, to cook a decent dinner and to keep a cheerful and joyful attitude towards others.

The other liturgical seasons fortified us in a special way, but it is Ordinary Time we are expected to go forth and live our faith. We put all our spiritual growth and learning from those previous seasons into action. With our Baptism and armed with the other sacraments, we have the graces to go forward in the “valley of tears.”

I compare Ordinary Time to the time when Jesus and his disciples were in a boat, “Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion” (Mark 4:38) and a storm broke out. Our normal lives aren’t always stormy, but there are times when we feel that Christ isn’t here helping us on our journey. But He is always present to us. Ordinary Time is our usual way of life that we go forward, working for God. Sometimes we are tested, sometimes it can be tiring, but we always are nourished and never alone. The concluding prayers of the Mass call us to “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life” is our work especially in Ordinary Time.

My Previous Posts on Ordinary Time:

Jennifer Gregory Miller is an experienced homemaker, home schooler, and authority on living the liturgical year. She is the primary developer of CatholicCulture.org's liturgical year section. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: jgmiller - Feb. 10, 2017 8:25 PM ET USA

    I agree, Ordinary Time as the name falls short. We don't have the "Time after Epiphany" and "Time after Pentecost" designations because they are not separate times...but even the original name is the same in both Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms "Tempus per annum". I do wish we had a better designation.

  • Posted by: dover beachcomber - Feb. 10, 2017 5:55 PM ET USA

    I'm still not happy with the term "Ordinary Time." The former term for the longer such period, "After Pentecost," at least anchored our attention to that momentous day when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles. That was a recollection that could inspire us. In comparison, "ordinary time" is blah and unexciting. "Show's over, folks. Relax, and we'll see you next Advent!"