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Cycles and Seasons

Our liturgical year is one of seasons and cycles. This week we will celebrate Ash Wednesday – the beginning of Lent. We pause in the counting Sundays of Ordinary Time (remember, Ordinary Time has to do with ordinal, like positions in a series, not boring!), to resume after the Easter season. Here’s your fun fact for the day… yesterday was the Sixth Sunday in OT. After Lent, Triduum, Easter and the celebrations of the Most Holy Trinity and the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), we will pick up again with the Eleventh Sunday in OT. Why the gap? It really boils down to math.

The last celebration of the liturgical year is the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. The Sunday prior to Christ the King is always the 33rd Sunday in OT. To figure out the numbering of the Sundays in Ordinary Time, we basically work our way backwards to the Sunday after Corpus Christi. Depending on when Easter is, there may be more than six Sundays in OT prior to the beginning of Lent. In 2020, Early Ordinary Time went through the 7th Sunday, and then we picked up in June with the 12th Sunday. (I know, Nerd Alert!!)

Back to Ash Wednesday… you may have read that the Vatican has instructed us this year that, rather than being signed with ashes, we will be sprinkled with them on the crown of our heads. This is common practice in many European countries, and is more in keeping with the Scriptures that say to keep your almsgiving and prayer and fasting in secret, “and your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” (Matthew 6:4)

For those who would like to attend Mass in their cars but still receive ashes, we will invite you to come into Room 103 after the homily, where chairs will be set up socially distant. We will also keep a radio in the room, so if you’d like to remain there during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, you may stay and then return to your car after receiving Holy Communion.

These are strange times, with remote schooling and no communal singing at worship, not being able to join with friends, and having to pay attention to which direction you walk down the aisles at the grocery store. The Church, in her wisdom, provides predictable seasons and comforting rituals that provide some continuity in a most bewildering time. Perhaps this Lent, you might rely on that comfort to enhance your relationship with the Almighty!

-Mary Hrich
Director of Liturgy and Music, St. Mary Magdalene