Can you name the five Liturgical Seasons of the Church?
Which Season is associated with the color green?
The Catholic Liturgical Season which begins in January after the end of the Christmas Season is known as Ordinary Time. But don't let the word "ordinary" fool you. Ordinary here means ordered (ordinal) or numbered, as in Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, Third Sunday, etc. It has nothing to do with being dull or commonplace. This season of the year is actually an “extraordinary” moment for living the Gospel mandate for mission. It’s a time to be creative in our missionary zeal by imitating the actions of Christ’s love. It’s a season of hope and rejuvenation, a time to care for the environment, and an opportunity to make our missionary efforts more compelling than ever.
Ordinary Time is broken into two parts: the first comes after Christmas and lasts until Ash Wednesday, and the second comes after the Easter Season and continues until Advent begins at the end of the calendar year. These two periods form one Liturgical Season when the Church focuses on the life and ministry of Christ. Based on the Sunday Gospel readings, the season picks up themes from the Evangelists which center on the redemptive life of Our Savior and the mysteries therein.
Ordinary Time in 2019 uses the cycle C of the Sunday readings. The Sunday Gospels in this year's cycle are almost exclusively taken from the caring evangelist and physician whom we call St. Luke. His writings make a special effort to show us Christ’s love for the poor (Lk 4:18, 6:20), a love that has been called preferential to the needy, but without excluding those who are not poor. The Lord of course commands us to love all people and not just the poor, yet throughout the Bible one can detect a special place in God's heart for those who are destitute, hurting or vulnerable. It is in this spirit of divine selfless love for those who are cast down that Luke instructs us to take on acts of charity in the name of Jesus so as to produce good fruit in His name.
St. Luke highlights such great models to imitate as the Good Samaritan who loved his neighbor, an unfortunate victim of violence who was robbed, beaten and left to die on the road (Lk 10:25-37). Later, he wisely advises followers to store up treasures not on Earth but in heaven, where they remain inexhaustible (Lk 12:32-48). This Christian love for others is the spirit of Ordinary Time, asking us to imitate Christ with our heart-led actions for the poor. We must always ask ourselves what we have done to help those who are needy among us.
The liturgical color used in Church during Ordinary Time is green, which is the color of hope and of life. Green reminds us that everyday life is always awakening, ever growing and in motion. This is an entirely hopeful stance that looks toward our future union with God. Green also reminds us that we are connected to the Earth and all of creation. As stewards of what God has made, we should put great effort into caring for our environment and helping nature to flourish. This would be a great moment to explore what science is teaching about making our natural resources more sustainable. Be sure and make your everyday actions consistent with the Christian mandate to be stewards of the environment. Making this more concrete in your life might include finding ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle whenever possible.
Towards the end of Ordinary Time, in the month of October, we will have an opportunity to be exceptional in our ordered time. Pope Francis has declared October of 2019 to be an Extraordinary Missionary Month. Coinciding with the Synod of Bishops which will take place in Brazil and focus on the Amazon, October will be a time to reflect on the importance of environmental justice as part of the Christian missionary mandate. In the United States, the Pontifical Mission Societies (MISSIO) will remember such great examples as Sister Dorothy Stang, SND, who was martyred on February 12, 2005 because of her actions to help the poor and the environment in the Brazilian Amazon. Her ministry reminds us that love for the poor and caring for creation is integral to living our faith. (More on the Extraordinary Missionary Month to help you focus your personal and corporal works of mercy and ecological justice is coming soon.)
So remember that Ordinary Time is a season to be extraordinary! These are the numbered weeks of the Catholic calendar that are far from boring, unloving or dispassionate. Centered on Jesus Christ and His love for all, how could they be anything but exceptional. May your daily life be filled with the loving example of Jesus Christ Who saves and reaches out to all who are poor.
MISSIO offers themed-quizzes in MissioBot to examine your religious knowledge - and this blog by Father Leo Perez, OMI to reflect on questions of mission and faith.