Counting from Pentecost

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One of the charms of the traditional liturgical calendar is that there is no "ordinary time." Indeed, in God's love no time is ordinary, it is all a season of joy and celebration. The traditional calendar recognizes this--Sundays that are not dedicated to clearly defined feasts are numbered, the xx Sunday after Pentecost.

The effect of this way of speaking of our Sundays is to remind us that we live in the time after Pentecost--it cannot be ordinary. We live in the time when the Holy Spirit was sent out to all people to dwell with them and be with them forever. What is ordinary about that? Before Pentecost and this massive effusion of God's love there may have been ordinary time, but not so now. We live in the age of the Spirit. And the Holy Spirit leaves and breathes and guides our steps and leads us to salvation.

So, as in so many ways, this new way of numbering our days has deprived us of some of the real good of tradition. Our days are now "ordinary" rather than "after Pentecost" and we don't have the reminder that we live in the age of the spirit. Alas, it is nevertheless true.

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It'd be nice though if Pentecost had more of a season. Seemed a little abrupt to go from Sunday to Monday this week.

Many years ago, I started writing some reflections that are eventually going to be titled "What's so ordinary about Ordinary Time?" and the subtitle was going to be "Living in the wake of a micacle", because at the time I had witnessed something of a miracle (17 vases of roses, courtesy of St. Thérèse in response to my wife's prayers -- then my girlfriend). Every year I work on it a little more, but I still don't have much together. One of the points that I've been thinking about this year is that the silence from Holy Saturday actually wasn't broken until the rushing wind at Pentecost. The Easter Sunday gospel accounts all take place in the early morning, and I can't think of a more still, silent time than early morning. The story from the end of John's gospel with Jesus meeting the apostles on the beach also takes place in the stillness of the early morning. But, with the rushing wind of Pentcost, that silence is finally broken, and St. Peter can say "We can not stop talking about what we have witnessed".

So, I agree, I prefer the "after Pentecost" numbering system. But I can't spell or pronounce the Septuagesima season, which used to fall between Baptism of the Lord and Ash Wednesday, so I'm content enough with the "Ordinary Time" title.


Dear TSO,

I was thinking the same myself. Perhaps that is why the next two Sundays are technically not Sundays in Ordinary time. And perhaps we can think of all Sundays outside of other defined Seasons as the Sundays of Pentecost.

Dear Brandon,

Yes, living in the wake of a miracle nicely describes the post-penetecost Church as well.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on June 6, 2006 9:15 AM.

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