Prayer for the Season
Ordinary Time is the season of growth and transformation. In the natural world, we are surrounded by symbols of transformation. The small seed in the dark earth that emerges as a green, thriving plant is a symbol for the word of God planted in us. We listen to the word and allow it to grow in the ‘soil’ of our hearts. God’s word transforms our lives as individuals and as a community. By listening and responding to the gospels of Ordinary Time, we will grow in all ways into Jesus Christ.
Understanding Ordinary Time
Ordinary Time is the longest season in the Church’s year. Comprising thirty-three weeks, it is divided into two sections; one short and the other very long. The weeks between the Christmas and Lenten seasons are the shorter part of Ordinary Time while the weeks between Pentecost and the Advent season form the long stretch. The word ‘ordinary’ comes from the word ordinal which means ‘counted’. Each week is known by a number, e.g. the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The use of the term Ordinary Time in our liturgical calendar distinguishes it from the other seasons—Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter—which focus on particular aspects of Christ’s life: his birth suffering, death and resurrection. Ordinary Time celebrates Jesus’ teaching and ministry. It gives us time to reflect on how we live as Christians. We have thirty-three weeks to examine and ‘order’ our lives while we focus on a particular Gospel, in a three-year cycle, and to enter it deeply. We are presently in Year B, the year of Mark.
Year A – The Gospel of Matthew
Year B – The Gospel of Mark
Year C – The Gospel of Luke
The weekday Masses are organised in a two-year cycle: Year I (odd years) and Year II (even years). The first readings and the gospels of weekdays are read in continuity, so that one day’s readings follows the next. In this way we are enabled, over time, to enter deeply into the spirit of the readings.
Green, the colour of Ordinary Time, tells us much about its significance in the Church’s life. It is the rich colour of growth and new life. Ordinary Time deserves to be lived extraordinarily—in the depths of our own hearts, in our families and in the worshipping community. It is important for us to immerse ourselves deeply in the spirituality of Ordinary Time because it contains the essence of who we are in the ‘everydayness’ of our Christian lives.
The Liturgical Year – calendars and resources
- This grid provides a calendar of moveable feasts until the year 2050.
Explore the importance of the lectionary readings for Sundays and weekdays throughout the liturgical year and notice what a very large range of readings from both Old and New Testaments are included in the Lectionary.
- Ordinary Time is celebrated in two parts throughout the year. Sacred Space, an Irish Jesuit site provides a way to pray with the readings of each day. The site also includes commentaries on the readfings of each day. Click on the ‘Living Space’ link.
- You may wish to develop a reflection on being transformed through Christ. The butterfly is a symbol of transformation. Its transformation to a new life from the darkness of the cocoon is also a symbol of resurrection.
The Year of Mark
- Read this brief introduction to Mark’s Gospel.
- Explore the Sunday readings (click on Proclaiming Faith), as well as suggestions for discussion and activities for primary school classes.
Preparing to Pray in Ordinary Time
When you are setting the environment for prayer, be mindful of the ordinary things that Jesus used to illustrate his message. As we reflect on Mark’s Gospel during Year B, we find many rich images for prayer. Explore the parable stories in Mark to find images such as the sower who goes out to scatter seeds, the mustard seed and the lamp on the lampstand. Mark presents an image of Jesus who is fully human as the suffering servant of the Old Testament prophecies and who is fully divine in his manifestation as the Wisdom and power of God.
For classroom prayer, display images or symbols, as appropriate, along with the Book of the Gospels. It will be helpful to have a variety of candles and green cloths for decorating the prayer space in Ordinary Time. It may help to occasionally add one or two green ‘growing’ plants to highlight Ordinary Time as the season for growth.
If you are praying as a group, ensure that readers and musicians are prepared beforehand. Take time to settle in silence before beginning your prayer together.
Preparing to pray, how to pray
- A basic structure for a non-Eucharistic liturgy is provided on this site. Scroll down for further resources.
- The Taize site has a helpful structure for preparing a time of prayer.
- Introduce the children to a process for writing a prayer.
- Settle the group before praying together. Prepare a welcoming space for prayer.
- On this site you will find a number of ways of praying with scripture.
Resources for praying in Ordinary Time
- Scroll down to find images related to the Gospels.
- This site from the Jesuits provides the daily Gospel and pointers for prayer.
Preparing for individual prayer:
Prayer in Ordinary Time
Prayer can take many forms. It can be silent and individual. A single word can be the focus. Prayer can also be very public, consisting of praise, intercession and thanksgiving with scriptural readings and songs. Whatever form it takes, Christian prayer is usually drawn from scripture and is always centered on Jesus Christ.
Before beginning prayer, either individually or in a group, take time to close your eyes and be still for a moment. Become aware of the presence of God in your heart and in the group. This creates a readiness for prayer. It is difficult for us to enter into prayer without first taking time to ‘centre’ the mind and the senses.
Choose, from the links below, a form of prayer that will suit your group/class or that will enrich your own individual prayer.
- Primary and secondary teachers can access resources for daily prayer in the classroom. Spend time as a group reflecting on the Our Father. Principals and RECs can explore the Liturgy Resource website for complete lectionary and sacramentary resources.
- Consider the value of silence in your individual prayer. The class group can also take time for silent meditation.
Ordinary Time is about transformation. It is about the gradual growth that happens in our lives and by which we become more and more like Jesus Christ. During Ordinary time we are given the opportunity to examine our lives in the light of the Gospel. The more we reflect on the gospels, the more the teaching and example of Jesus Christ will fill our minds and inspire us to take action to transform others’ lives.
- Read about famous and ordinary peacemakers who have taken action to transform the lives of others and who have worked toward bringing about a more peaceful and just society.
- Explore the main themes of Catholic social teaching.