Ordinary / Ordinal / Extraordinary

I received a message from a reader who is concerned that I may have misled you with my use of the word "ordinary" in the previous post, so a clarification may be in order.

As I noted in a post last year, the word ordinary in the title Ordinary Time refers to numbering of Sundays outside the major cycles of the Advent-Christmas and Lent-Easter seasons. A more precise, if somewhat clumsy, rendering of the titles of these Sundays would be along the lines of "The Twenty-fifth of the Counted Sundays."

In my more recent post I distinguished this past Sunday's Masses as "ordinary" in that no special "rites, events or commemorations" were celebrated or noted.  I also noted that it's good for us to remember that "something truly out of the ordinary happens every Sunday at Mass when the Lord speaks to us in his own words and invites us to share at his table the life of the sacrifice he offered once for all."

It's a word with ambiguous usage and can easily mislead us when used in ecclesial venues.

I'm grateful for a reader's reminder that on the church calendar, "ordinary" means "ordinal."


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  1. Rather, it really is the Sunday of the Nth Ordinally Counted Week of the Year.

    The counting of the weeks goes forward from the Baptism of the Lord (which is why there is no 1st Sunday in OT) until Lent, and backward from Advent to Pentecost.

  2. A very fine distinction: thank you, Liam.


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