Q: An old Bishop explained to me that the usual rule when it comes to identifying a Sunday within a particular season is that Sundays are “of” a season except for Lent and Ordinary Time when it’s a Sunday “in” the Season.
Has this form of identification fallen by the wayside or does Rome prefer the Sundays identified as the Bishop emeritus said? If indeed it’s the Sundays of Lent, then what would be the rational?
A: For some reason the missal gives us Sundays “in” Ordinary Time but Sundays “of” Advent, Lent and Easter. And in parts of the world where the Epiphany is a holyday falling on a weekday, they have the Second Sunday “after” the Nativity.
There are several Sundays that disappear from Ordinary Time each year. There is no First Sunday – the period begins on the weekday after the Baptism of the Lord. And between Ash Wednesday and Corpus Christi, there are no Sundays of Ordinary Time, even though there are some weekdays.
Remember too that the Latin words for Ordinary Time are not Tempus Ordinarius, but Per Annum. They are Sundays “through the year.” You could argue that Ordinary Time isn’t really a season like the others are – it’s the time that fills the space between the more important times of the year.
The Sundays of Advent, Lent and Easter all contribute to the architecture of their times of year, and nothing ever replaces one of them. They are integral Sundays “of”, but the others are more arbitrary Sundays “in”.