Ordinary Time

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Ordinary Time comprises two periods of time in the Christian liturgical year that are found in the calendar of the ordinary form of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, as well as some other churches of Western Christianity, including those that use the Revised Common Lectionary:[1] the Anglican Communion, Methodist churches, Lutheran churches, Old Catholic churches and Reformed churches.[2] In Latin, the name of this time is tempus per annum translated as time during the year.

Ordinary Time comprises two periods: the first period begins on Epiphany Day (in the Anglican Communion and Methodist churches) or the day after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (in the Catholic Church) and ends on the day before Ash Wednesday; the second period begins on the Monday after Pentecost, the conclusion of the Easter season, and continues until the Saturday before the First Sunday of Advent. In some traditions, the first period is celebrated as Epiphanytide,[3] and the latter of these periods is observed as Trinitytide.[4] Both of these periods of time, combined, are the longest time in the liturgical year.[5]

The weeks of Ordinary Time are numbered. Several Sundays bear the name of feasts or solemnities celebrated on those days, including Trinity Sunday and the Feast of Christ the King.

The liturgical color normally assigned to Ordinary Time is green.

Events of Ordinary Time[edit]

In the Catholic Church, Ordinary Time begins on the day after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The church normally celebrates this feast on the Sunday after the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (6 January). However, some dioceses, including those in the United States, always celebrate Epiphany on the Sunday after the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (1 January); in years when this Sunday celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord falls on January 7 or 8, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is moved to the following day, the second Monday of the year.

Therefore, Ordinary Time starts on the second Monday or Tuesday of the year (January 9 or 10) in those years and dioceses. The Christmas season includes the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, so Ordinary Time begins the next day, Monday or Tuesday, not on Sunday. However, the Sunday after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is always counted as the "Second Sunday of Ordinary Time".

Ordinary Time continues through the day before Ash Wednesday, which falls between 4 February and 10 March (inclusive), and marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. Thus, for Roman Catholics, the period of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Lent may end amid the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, or ninth week of Ordinary Time. Ash Wednesday is a moveable feast which occurs on the 40th day (excluding Sundays) before the Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord (Easter Sunday).

Ordinary Time resumes on the Monday following Solemnity of Pentecost, which is the Sunday between 10 May and 13 June that marks the 50th day of Easter. Ordinary Time concludes with the Saturday afternoon before the first Sunday of Advent (27 November to 3 December). Ordinary Time thus always includes the entire months of July, August, September and October and most or all of June and November. In some years, Ordinary Time includes a portion of May, or a day or two in early December, or both. The Catholic Church substitutes the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King of the Universe in the place of the 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the last Sunday of the season.

Weeks in a year[edit]

Weeks of Ordinary Time
on or after
2017 2018 2019
1 Jan 7 Jan 8 Jan 7 Jan 13
2 Jan 14 Jan 15 Jan 14 Jan 20
3 Jan 21 Jan 22 Jan 21 Jan 27
4 Jan 28 Jan 29 Jan 28 Feb 3
5 Feb 4 Feb 5 Feb 4 Feb 10
6 Feb 11 Feb 12 Feb 11 Feb 17
7 Feb 18 Feb 19 Feb 24
8 Feb 25 Feb 26 Mar 3
9 Mar 3/4[A 1]
6 May 8
7 May 15 May 20
8 May 22 May 27
9 May 29 Jun 4 Jun 3
10 Jun 5 Jun 11 Jun 10 Jun 9
11 Jun 12 Jun 18 Jun 17 Jun 16
12 Jun 19 Jun 25 Jun 24 Jun 23
13 Jun 26 Jul 2 Jul 1 Jun 30
14 Jul 3 Jul 9 Jul 8 Jul 7
15 Jul 10 Jul 16 Jul 15 Jul 14
16 Jul 17 Jul 23 Jul 22 Jul 21
17 Jul 24 Jul 30 Jul 29 Jul 28
18 Jul 31 Aug 6 Aug 5 Aug 4
19 Aug 7 Aug 13 Aug 12 Aug 11
20 Aug 14 Aug 20 Aug 19 Aug 18
21 Aug 21 Aug 27 Aug 26 Aug 25
22 Aug 28 Sep 3 Sep 2 Sep 1
23 Sep 4 Sep 10 Sep 9 Sep 8
24 Sep 11 Sep 17 Sep 16 Sep 15
25 Sep 18 Sep 24 Sep 23 Sep 22
26 Sep 25 Oct 1 Sep 30 Sep 29
27 Oct 2 Oct 8 Oct 7 Oct 6
28 Oct 9 Oct 15 Oct 14 Oct 13
29 Oct 16 Oct 22 Oct 21 Oct 20
30 Oct 23 Oct 29 Oct 28 Oct 27
31 Oct 30 Nov 5 Nov 4 Nov 3
32 Nov 6 Nov 12 Nov 11 Nov 10
33 Nov 13 Nov 19 Nov 18 Nov 17
34 Nov 20 Nov 26 Nov 25 Nov 24
  1. ^ Mar 3 in leap years and Mar 4 in ordinary years

  Movable by Lent
  Movable by Eastertide

The actual number of complete or partial weeks of Ordinary Time in any given year can total 33 or 34. In most years, Ordinary Time comprises only 33 weeks,[6][7] so the Church omits one week that otherwise would precede the resumption of Ordinary Time following Pentecost Sunday. For example, in 2011, the Sunday before Ash Wednesday was the Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, but the day after Pentecost Sunday began the 11th Week in Ordinary Time.

In the Church of England, a similar situation arises with "Sundays after Trinity", as Sundays in the second period of Ordinary Time are termed (until the final four, which are termed "Sundays before Advent"). The total number of Sundays varies according to the date of Easter and can range anything from 18 to 23. When there are 23, the Collect and Post-Communion for the 22nd Sunday are taken from the provision for the Third Sunday before Lent.

In the Episcopal Church (United States), it is normal to refer to Sundays after Epiphany and Sundays after Pentecost. The use of Ordinary Time is not common.

In the Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic churches, Sundays are all numbered after Pentecost which runs through the following year. The Orthodox do not distinguish Ordinary Time.

Solemnities and feasts in Ordinary Time[edit]

In addition, certain solemnities and feasts that fall on Sundays during Ordinary Time preempt the observance of an ordinarily numbered Sunday. On preempted Sundays, the liturgical color of the feast or solemnity replaces the liturgical color green. These feast days include, in the Roman Catholic calendar, any holy day of obligation, any other solemnity, any feast of the Lord, and the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed Souls.

On the universal calendar, these include:

The following observances always preempt a Sunday in Ordinary Time:

Other solemnities which outrank Sundays of Ordinary Time vary from parish to parish and diocese to diocese; they may include the feast of the patron saint of a parish and the feast of the dedication of the parish church.

In addition, if a solemnity or feast that outranks a Sunday of Ordinary Time, such as those mentioned above, should occur during the week, a priest celebrating Mass with a congregation may observe the solemnity on a nearby Sunday. Such a celebration is traditionally called an "external solemnity," even if the feast in question is not ranked as a solemnity. If an external solemnity is celebrated on a Sunday, the color of that celebration is used rather than green.

Use of the term[edit]

In the extraordinary form there are two distinct seasons in the Roman Breviary and Roman Missal, known as the time after Epiphany and the time after Pentecost, which together correspond to Ordinary Time in the ordinary form. Sundays in these seasons are referred to as the nth Sunday after Epiphany or Pentecost, as appropriate, and weekdays are identified in reference to the Sunday they follow.

With the reforms of 1970 came the introduction of four liturgical weeks (the 6th through 9th weeks of Ordinary Time) which could fall either after Epiphany or after Pentecost, making the old numbering scheme unusable, and the term tempus per annum was used to describe both of these seasons. Before the reforms until the present, the term tempus per annum has been used to describe the season of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary that is not part of Advent or Christmastide, and so tempus per annum extends from Matins on 3 February through None on the last Saturday before Advent.

Following the lead of the liturgical reforms of the Roman Rite, many Protestant churches also adopted the concept of Ordinary Time alongside the Revised Common Lectionary.

Kingdomtide exception[edit]

Some Protestant denominations (most notably the United Methodist Church) set off the last 13 or 14 weeks of Ordinary Time into a separate season, known as Kingdomtide.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bratcher, Dennis (2014). "The Lectionary". Christian Research Institute. Retrieved 5 June 2016. The RCL Sunday readings are organized around the two major Seasons of the Church Year, beginning with Advent-Christmas-Epiphany, and then Lent-Easter-Pentecost. The remainder of the year between Pentecost and Advent is called Ordinary Time, from the word "ordinal", which simply means counted time (1st Sunday after Pentecost, etc.).
  2. ^ Holmes, Stephen Mark (1 October 2012). The Fathers on the Sunday Gospels. Liturgical Press. p. 22. ISBN 9780814635100. The Revised Common Lectionary has been subsequently adopted by many English-speaking Protestant denominations such as the Church of Scotland and various Lutheran and Reformed churches. It has also been adopted by some Old Catholic churches and is widely used throughout the Anglican Communion, for example by the Church of Ireland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church in Wales, the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican churches of Canada, Australia, Aotearoa/New Zealand and Polynesia, Melanesia, the West Indies, Central Africa, and Southern Africa. In the Church of England the two-year Sunday Lectionary of the Alternative Service Book 1980 was replaced in 2000 by an adapted version of the Revised Common Lectionary in Common Worship.
  3. ^ "Epiphany". BBC Online. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2016. For many Protestant church traditions, the season of Epiphany extends from 6 January until Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent leading to Easter.
  4. ^ "Trinitytide". Merriam-Webster. 5 June 2016. Retrieved 5 June 2016. Definition of Trinitytide: the season of the church year between Trinity Sunday and Advent
  5. ^ "Ordionary Time", Catholic Culture website.
  6. ^ Lectionary Calendar and Movable Feasts
  7. ^ There are 34 weeks of Ordinary Time in years with dominical letters A or g or some combination containing A or g, i.e., Ag, bA, or gf. All other years have 33 weeks of Ordinary Time, with the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, or ninth or 10th week dropped from the calendar that year.
  8. ^ In the United States, white may be used in place of violet on All Souls Day.