Ordinary Time doesn’t sound like a very exciting name for a season. That’s because in common (i.e., ordinary) usage, “ordinary” has come to mean average, commonplace, conventional, familiar, humdrum, normal, routine, you know…boring.
But in the more ancient usage of the term “ordinary” – which is derived from the term “ordinal” or “numbered” – means “that which is counted.” Ordinary Time is the time “in between” the official liturgical seasons of the Church Year: outside the seasons of Lent–Easter and Advent–Christmas. It is called “ordinary” or “counted” time because the date of Christmas is fixed while the date of Easter moves, which means to keep everything straight we have to count the number of Sundays in between them.
So there are actually two periods of “Ordinary” or “Counted” Time: the season after the Epiphany and the season after Pentecost. The first period of Ordinary Time starts the morning after the feast of the Epiphany and continues through Shrove Tuesday (the eve of Lent). The second period of Ordinary Time start the morning after the feast of Pentecost and ends on eve of Advent. The first Sunday of the season after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday and the last Sunday is Reign of Christ Sunday (a.k.a. Christ the King).
In Ordinary Time, the Church celebrates the mystery of Christ and the mystery of life in Christ not in one specific aspect but in all its aspects. The readings during the liturgies of Ordinary Time help to instruct us on how to live out our Christian faith in our daily lives, telling us, in effect, that “every moment counts.”
The liturgical color for Ordinary Time is green, which is a sign of hope.
The symbol for Ordinary Time is the Chi Rho, a Christian symbol that dates from the early Church. It is comprised of the first two letters of the Greek word for Messiah, Christos—the letter Chi looks like the letter “X”, and the letter Rho looks like the letter “P.” This abbreviation became a symbol representing Jesus Christ.