By Rev. Fr. Cosmas Okafor
A man said, “thanks to God we have entered the ordinary season of the year, now person gonna rest and enjoy his life”. He was asked, “rest from what”?
“Prayer of course”, he replied.
The Church actually has entered into another season of her liturgical year called “The Ordinary Season of the Year”. Do we have to thank God? Yes, we thank God in all seasons, but is this season actually a time to rest?, Rest from what? Prayer? Should we be happy?
We should be happy because the Church has taken us into another dimension of her liturgical year in order to help us experience another side of Christ’s mystery. Change they say, is good when it is profitable. Rest from Prayer? No, to achieve spiritual triumph and growth, there is no break nor holidays.
Is Ordinary Season of the year ordinary in the sense of inferior, less serious or mundane? No ! It is as sublime and Christ-centered as all other liturgical seasons. No part of Christ life is ordinary in the strict sense. “Ordinary” here means “regular”, “normal’, “ordered” or “numbered”.
It is Ordinal (is of Latin origin) meaning numbered. Illustratively, in the order of Mass, that part of the Mass that do not vary from day to day like “Our Father “ belongs to the ordinary of the Mass. “Ordinary” here, means “common” which designates a usual, regular and constant pattern.
This is what is explained and implied by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council when they teach that people should know how to sing together at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin (cf. General Instruction of the Roman Missal,41; www.Merriam.com/dictionary/ordinary). Ordinary of the Mass are the constant part of the Mass that do not change.
Welcome to the ordinary season of the liturgical year. It is the part of the liturgical year that does not celebrate any specific mystery of Christ but celebrates all the aspects of Christ mystery unlike Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. It numbers thirty-three weeks or thirty-four weeks (depending on the date of Easter).
It spans from the day after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord to the Tuesday before Ash-Wednesday and from the Monday after Pentecost to Evening Prayer 1 of the First Sunday of Advent. These Sundays and Weeks of the Ordinary Season of the Year are sequentially and consecutively numbered 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 34th Sunday or Week of the Year. The readings of Ordinary Season work according to the principle of semi-continuity where by an entire book is read in a sequence (though some sections of the readings may be omitted for pastoral reasons).
During this time, the church continues to celebrate the mystery of Christ especially His Resurrection and it’s application to our human lives. From the Baptism of the Lord, the Gospels covers the beginning of the Christ preaching, His Baptism and His first manifestation.
The time after Pentecost covers Christ’s Public Ministry of healing and preaching. Ordinary Season unfolds Sunday by Sunday bereft of any particular celebration, except for a few feasts of devotion and of Saints. (Cf. Dictionary of the Liturgy,471). Sunday is our weekly Easter and a great feast. It is a day the Church celebrates the triumph of Jesus through His Cross, His Word, and His Eucharist and anticipate His second coming in glory.
This season with the celebration of the Pentecost (Birthday of the Church), ushers the children of God into the Mystery of the Church especially the profound journey of the Church Militant towards that final goal when we will all be members of the Church Triumphant. It is in memory of this great goal that the Church’s last Sunday of the Liturgical Year dominated by the thought of the end of the world and concludes with a vision of Christ’s universal Kingship and the glory of all the saints.
Green is the normal liturgical colour for the ordinary season of the liturgical year. Green colour signifies new beginnings and growth. It represents the seasons of Spring and Summer when plants and trees grow and blossom. It symbolizes life and represents the anticipation and hope in the resurrection of Christ.
“Green is in harmony with the very nature of the Church – she is a mighty tree, which lifts its top majestically toward heaven, spreads its shady branches and leaves in benediction over the earth, resplendent with the richest blossoms, bringing forth choice fruits of grace and virtue in abundance. She is the watered garden of the Lord; Christ, the good shepherd, leads his sheep to ever green pastures.
The Church clothes herself in green vestments to express her joyous, lively hope of the ever lovely and eternally verdant meadows of the heavenly paradise, of the incorruptible inheritance and the unfading crown of glory in Heaven”(cf. https/aleteia.org/ Gihr, Nicholas. The Holy Sacrifice of the mass,1908).
Thus, ordinary season is a time of growth and maturation in faith and virtues for the people of God who should follow the Liturgy and should respond adequately to the call of God. One must take this great season seriously.
This is done through active participation in Liturgy and putting into practice the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Ordinary season of the year is a time children of God develop personal relationship with God through their personal prayer.
It is time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It is time to cultivate a good spiritual relationship with Blessed Virgin Mary and Saints. It is time to learn from the examples of saints. It is time to book mass and start novena prayers for various intentions and needs. Like the man that said “now, person gonna rest and enjoy life”, say rather , “now, person gonna pray and enjoy life”.
Here are some recommendations one can follow to make the most out of the Ordinary Season of the year:
- Continue a devotion you embraced during the previous liturgical seasons. Many people begin a prayer devotion like daily visitation to the Blessed Sacrament, participation in daily Mass, saying of Holy Rosary, novena prayer to Jesus Christ, Saints and many others. Do not stop these devotions. Try to continue and make them a spiritual habit. These devotion if continued will become essential part of your daily life and deepen your relationship with God. The practice of these devotion in Ordinary time of the year make your spiritual life a continuum and a culture.
- Start a new devotion. If you have not started any special devotion, break a new spiritual ground by beginning a new devotion like the devotions mentioned above. Start now. This could be sign of growth and would mean that one is no longer compelled because of the special liturgical season.
- Continue with your abstinence from sin and bad habits. Lent is special time for fasting and abstinence. One can continue with these practices especially avoiding sin and other sinful habits. It will be ridiculous to yield again to the sins one has run away from during the previous liturgical seasons. Decide to stop any Bad habit like alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual pervasions, sex addictions, and other habitual sins and misconducts.
- Study more, the life of the saints this season. Do this especially on each day when a particular saint is commemorated. When one does this, one will draw from the lives of these saints, consolation, joy and virtues that will help one live joyously ones Christian call. “Your brothers all over the world suffer the same thing” (cf. 1Pet. 5:9).
- Read the daily scriptures especially the Liturgical readings in anticipation of the readings of the next day’s Holy Mass. This will make you feed your soul with the Word of God and help you prepare adequately for the Holy Mass. Thanks to FIDES MEDIA who arms us properly with their monthly Bulletins to enable us participate actively in the Mass.
- Put into practice the liturgical theme of every Sunday of Ordinary Season. For instance, live life of gratitude and joy every day of this season and the joy of the Lord will strengthen you. (Cf. Neh.8:10). Life of Joy will make you live more healthy and blessed life for it is joy that empowers children of God more to draw blessings from the well of salvation (cf. Is. 12:3). One cannot live life of gratitude and joy with animosity and unforgiving spirit. Forgive your offender and aggressor. Let go any anger and resentment so as to enjoy this great season.
Rev. Fr. Okafor
write from St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church