Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Mystery of the Missing 6th Week in Ordinary Time

I just got this question from Tami: 

Hi Daria, I have a question : why do we not have a week six of ordinary time this year? Week five was just before Lent and Monday (May 16) starts week seven. Does it have to do with where Easter fell this year? -Tami

Where did the missing week 6 in ordiary time go? 

Tami had me stumped. The lateness of Easter seemed like it might be a clue, but still...there are always 52 weeks in a year, so what difference would this make?  

Then I remembered that the Church year, as opposed tp the calendar year, starts with Advent. Advent can begin anywhere from November 27th to December 3rd. And early Advent "pulls back" the calendar by up to a week.  This year 2015)  Advent started on the 29th,  Next year (2016) Advent starts on November 27th. 

An early Advent means that there are not enough available Sundays or weeks to be "in" Ordinary time. So one of them must be eliminated.   As I recall, the Sunday gospels during the last few Sundays of the year are of particular eschatological significance, leading as they do to the feast of Christ the King. So you don't want to elilminate from that end. 

So, I'm puzzling about this and still not quite sure I have it right, when I said to myself, "Self! This looks like a job for--the internet!"  

A quick google of "sixth week in ordinary time is missing" brought me to this fun and informative article by Andrew Motyka at Corpus Christi Watershed.  (CCW, by the way, is a great site devoted to liturgical music.) Here is a quote from the article:

The trick here is to remember two things: because Christmas occurs on a different weekday each year, then the Advent and Christmas seasons will be of varying length. The second thing to remember is that the last Sunday in Ordinary Time, Christ the King, is always on the 34th Sunday of Ordinary Time. This year, though, there are only 33, not 34, Sundays in Ordinary Time. How does the Church rectify this? Simply put, she cheats. She simply declares the last Sunday of Ordinary Time to be the 34th, and then counts backwards until she reaches Pentecost. Therefore, the week following Pentecost is the 7th, not the 6th, week in Ordinary Time. There simply skips the 6th week of Ordinary Time altogether this year. You’ve been counting it wrong.

But do go and read the rest of it.