Monday, January 12, 2009

Nothing ordinary about it

FRIARS CORNER for January 18, 2009:

As you heard at the beginning of our Mass today, this is the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. We enter into that season of our Church calendar, an in-between time, that bridges us from Christmas until Lent. Lent will be upon us soon enough as Ash Wednesday comes along on February 25.

But, this name – Ordinary Time – can be a bit of a misnomer. It suggests a rather blasé time, a bland season, a boring time. All-in-all, rather ordinary. But, of course, such is not the case. This season takes its name because what it doesn’t have is a particular focus – as do our other seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. But rather, this is the time of our Church year when we explore the ministerial life of Christ. As you know, last Sunday was the Baptism of Christ, which is the beginning of that ministerial life. We will now spend time reflecting upon the ministerial life of Jesus; those three years between His baptism and His death and resurrection.

And that is the point of the name of this season – ordinary. It doesn’t mean ordinary in our sense of plainness, but rather ordinary from the Latin word ordinal which simply means numbered.

The rhythm of the liturgical seasons reflects the rhythm of life — with its celebrations of anniversaries and its seasons of quiet growth and maturing. Ordinary Time is celebrated in two segments: from the Monday following the Baptism of Our Lord up to Ash Wednesday; and from Pentecost Monday to the First Sunday of Advent. This makes it the largest season of the Liturgical Year.

In vestments usually green, the color of hope and growth, the Church counts the thirty-three or thirty-four Sundays of Ordinary Time, inviting us to meditate upon not the ordinary, but the extraordinary, the whole mystery of Christ – His life, miracles and teachings – in the light of His Resurrection.

If we are to mature in the spiritual life and increase in faith, we must descend the great mountain peaks of Easter and Christmas in order to "pasture" in the vast verdant meadows of tempus per annum, or Ordinary Time. Sunday by Sunday, the Pilgrim Church marks her journey through the tempus per annum as she processes through time toward eternity.

One of our older priests, Fr. Bonaventure, would always introduce Mass in this way during this season, “Today is the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, let us make it extraordinary by or worship and our lives.”

And so, this is the challenge I place before us all – let us embrace the hope and life our green vestments encourage and let us find and live the extraordinary in this Ordinary Time of our Church year.

Love, Fr. Tom

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