We have the earliest Lent since 1856 rushing up on us: Ash Wednesday is February 5th, Easter will be March 23rd. Since Easter floats on a moon-timed cycled just as its predecessor Passover did, it's hard to put it mentally in place a year in advance, much less a month in advance.
So, here we are, moving serenely through Ordinary Time ("ordinary" as is "ordinal" or "counted" time, not "ordinary" as in, well, uh, boring, unexciting, predictable) today is the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time. We'll have the Fourth Sunday and then bam! Lent! That's forty days, then Easter, then 50 days, then Pentecost.
When we pick up Ordinary Time again, we'll resume in May after Pentecost with the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time. The Fifth Sunday goes poof! this year, because of the number of weeks remaining in the year, so that we fit in the rest of Ordinary Time before Advent.
Ordinary Time has become more special to me in past years because the Scripture readings of the time have a theme: of Christ's active life, or of prophecy of His Coming. I like to read the larger chapter of Scripture the day's Mass readings are from, and I learn a lot of Scripture and a lot of Old Testament-New Testament connections during this time. Also, saints' feasts and memorials get nice prominence because they're not set aside by larger Advent or Lent markers. It's just like average secular life, that goes on between birthdays and weddings and funerals and Christmas (in its secular sense) and the Superbowl and the annual flu.
I didn't realize fully until this year that Ordinary Time doesn't continue to tick along underneath Lent and Advent, so that those readings are set aside during the times of preparation for the celebrations of the Birth, Passion and Death of Christ. We're not "gypped" out of those simpler times; Ordinary Time simply stops and starts. The big events just fit in.
Too bad real life isn't like that: when someone dies, regular life just stops, work stops, ballgames stop, holidays stop. Or when a baby is due. Or when we marry. God's Church is very considerate. I want to look around on the Internet and see why the liturgical calendar works that way.
Either way, enjoy this happy interesting calm before the "storm" of Lent, when we begin the long walk with Christ on the Way of the Cross.
Kevin O’Brien on the Divine Drama and Showbiz
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