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What Does Ordinary Time Mean?

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Question: Ordinary Time makes up most of the liturgical year in the Catholic Church. What does Ordinary Time mean?

Answer: Because Ordinary Time refers to the period of the Catholic Church's liturgical year that fall outside of the major seasons (Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter), and because of the connotations of the term "ordinary" in English, many people think Ordinary Time refers to the parts of the Church year that are unimportant. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Ordinary Time is called "ordinary" because the weeks are numbered. The Latin word ordinalis, which refers to numbers in a series, stems from the Latin word ordo, from which we get the English word order. Thus, Ordinary Time is in fact the ordered life of the Church—the period in which we live our lives neither in feasting (as in the Christmas and Easter seasons) or in more severe penance (as in Advent and Lent), but in watchfulness and expectation of the Second Coming of Christ.

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