How Ordinary Time Readings Are Organized
Alexander, Andy, S.J.
Waldron, Maureen McCann
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Text from the first four paragraphs of "How Ordinary Time Readings are Organized"Understanding the arrangement of the readings can help us appreciate the movement of the season and to use them to grow in our relationship with Jesus The official guide for how the readings work for Mass is contained in the introduction to the Lectionary - the book of the readings which we use at Mass. This introduction lays out the decisions which were made to arrange the readings for the Mass in such a way that we experience a great deal of the treasury of the scriptures over a three year Sunday cycle (Year A, B and C) and over a two year Weekday cycle (Year I and II). There is a special arrangement for Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter, and for the special celebrations of the year. We will focus on the part of the introduction which addresses Ordinary Time.How the Season of Ordinary Time is laid out across the liturgical yearThe liturgical year begins with the First Sunday of Advent - about four weeks before Christmas. The Christmas season follows Advent. Ordinary Time counts the weeks between the end of the Christmas season and Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent. The date for Easter is moveable because it is related to the celebration of Passover on the Jewish calendar, which is connected to the vernal equinox - actually on the first full moon after it. (The vernal, or Spring, equinox, is the date when the length of days and nights are the same. This is when spring begins, as the daylight, which was shorter all winter, now begins to grow longer.) The Council of Niceas (in 325) decided that Easter would be celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon, which follows the vernal equinox. This means that Easter will be celebrated from about the third week of March to about the third week of April.So, Ordinary Time counts the time between the end of the Christmas season and whenever Lent begins. Usually there are between four to nine weeks of Ordinary Time before Lent begins.