Ordinary Time - A Time for Being Special
by Deacon Thomas Frankenfield
We are now journeying together in the Liturgical Season called "Tempus Annum," or "Ordinary Time." Ordinary Time fills the majority of weeks of the year not specifically focused on the two major portion Christ's life on earth. In particular, the Advent-Christmas season specifically remembers the Incarnation of Christ. The Lenten/Easter season experience the Pascal mystery of Christ.
So at one level, Ordinary Time is sort of "connecting time" focusing on living out the special experiences we encountered while preparing our hearts during those seasons of Lent-Easter and Advent-Christmas. However, when we make permanent changes during these special experiences we can make Ordinary Time an extremely "Special Time."
Part of the Liturgical Process
As the People of God, deepen our spiritual journey, we are challenged to a deeper faith. The most common metaphor we use is the setting of peaks and valleys. The hope of Ordinary Time is to add another--the lush green meadows of hope. As you know, the Liturgical color for Ordinary Time is the color of hope-green. We have had powerful "mountain top" liturgical experiences in Christmas and Easter and "deep valleys" during Advent and Lent. Now we are asked to encounter the Lord in the green meadow of our lives.
One way to experience the lushness of Christ is via reflection on the Word of God-Sacred Scripture. I suggest that you take the weeks of Ordinary Time to study and meditate on Sacred Scriptures as a crucial way of making the experiences of the seasons of Lent-Easter and Advent-Christmas take root in our lives.
Another way is to make personal prayer a regular routine. In our parish, we celebrated Evening Prayer on Sundays during the seasons of Advent and Lent. Plus, we prayed the Stations of the Cross during the Lenten season. These communal prayers were profound "mountain top" experiences of prayer. From the witness of parishioners, we know that these communal prayer experiences healed relationships and deepened personal experiences of God. So the question now becomes, how do we "normalize" these healings and deepened relationships during Ordinary Time? I suggest you make communal prayers your personal practice. Join the Church at prayer by reciting of the Liturgy of the Hours. Visit your church and walk with Jesus along the Stations of the Cross. Then, during the next liturgical year we can approach the celebratory seasons as more mature Catholics ready to experience deeper spiritual experiences in our journey with Christ.
During the season of Lent, Ann decided to give up from caffeine. Besides the Lenten call to fast, Ann as another reason for this choice--caffeine was affecting her blood pressure in a negative way. This was not an easy fast for Ann. She struggled mightily during the first week of Lent. Through perseverance and prayer, Ann was successful in her fast and soon she began to live her life without the negative influence of caffeinated products. She also discovered that her fast provided extra cash in the family budget because she no longer went to the coffee shop every morning on the way to work. They were now able to give more generously to the poor during Lent.
When Easter arrived, Ann had decisions to make. Should she resume her past practice of stopping by the coffee shop every morning for a jolt of caffeine? Should her family continue to donate to the poor? Her decisions were to reduce the times she visited the coffee shop and when she did order coffee it would be decaffeinated. Plus, the family increased their weekly contribution to the parish collection.
By the time, she was journeying the Church in Ordinary Time, Ann had made permanent changes in her lifestyle, as well as, improving her health. She then rooted these practices deeper during Ordinary Time resulting in a greater zest for healthy living and the joy of helping others through her generosity. This joyfulness allowed her to see Christ more clearly in all she did. With these changes rooted in her life Ann is an example of making Ordinary Time an extremely "Special Time."
For Your Journey
The Ordinary Times can be a different experience for those who made the challenging decisions through the seasons of Lent-Easter and Advent-Christmas. What areas of your life were impacted during the seasons of Advent and Lent? Did you give up something that made a change in your life? Did you experience a deepened spirituality that brought you closer to God when you celebrated Easter and Christmas? Are you taking those practices into your Ordinary Times?
The Ordinary Times are our opportunity to dance with Jesus in the lush green meadow. Come to the Lord, he is calling us all to this dance. Dancing with Jesus in show us how Ordinary Time can be an extremely "Special Time" for all of God's People.
For Your Reflection
From a Ministry Perspective:
- What specific things can I do to make Ordinary Time a meadow of lush grass for those I am called to serve?
- As a minister, we are called to serve people in the meadows, valleys and peaks of life? Where do you spend most of your time ministering? What area are you least comfortable ministering? What steps can you take to encounter this area of discomfort?
From a Domestic Church Perspective:
- What areas of our Domestic Church were impacted during the seasons of Lent-Easter and Advent-Christmas? How have these changes taken root? Do we need to revisit them again?
- As a Domestic Church, we live in the meadows, valleys and peaks of each other's lives? Is there an area that you prefer to spend most of your time? What area are you least comfortable? What steps can you take to encounter this area of discomfort?
I would love your feedback, thoughts, stories and ideas. Please email me.
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