For those familiar with the Church calendar, we are in the first of two periods of “Ordinary Time.” For those in the orthodox traditions, this is… well, quite ordinary. It happens every year. Twice.
For others, you might be saying, “I’ve been in Ordinary Time for months. That’s how un-exciting my life is…”
There are better sources than this blog to learn about Ordinary Time, here’s one example of a brief summary.
“Ordinary Time” refers to the weeks between the Church festivals, feasts and celebrations. We’re in the shorter period now, it begins the day after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord for Catholics and after Epiphany for Protestants. (Wait?! We do this, too? Yeah, some do.) This period will go until Ash Wednesday. The second block is much longer and starts after Pentecost and goes until Advent.
While we are in a time of non-feastiness, “Ordinary” doesn’t mean typical or humdrum. Most sources would tell you that it refers to “Ordinal” numbers, or a way to count the weeks between the celebrations.
Historically speaking, the Church calendar tends to fill up over time. Don’t we all look at the calendar full of its events, celebrations, gatherings, and wonder where we’re supposed to fit the rest of our lives? In the Salvation Army, as unorthodox as you might find in many ways, it can be hard to find free evenings, to say nothing of weekends or holidays. It seems that there’s always a retreat, a conference or this, that or the other right around the corner.
For many of us, we end up living from event to event, from gathering to gathering. We use the weeks in between to decompress. Often, it’s not so much that we’re back at our home congregation, but just that we’re back at home at all. Instead of being the place that gets the most out of us, and that we get the most out of, it becomes a re-fueling run before something else.
Over the centuries, there have been times in Church history that the calendar was too full. There have been times when some celebrations needed to be cut, some extra feasts or gatherings needed to be eliminated. There was simply too much on the grand scale for the rest of life to fully embrace. Too many celebrations (whaaaaat???!!! It IS possible…) and things needed to be trimmed down. Too much travel or too much spending or too much time away from the lives in which we are planted, and it was harmful. So the powers that be went about uncluttering.
And thus, “Ordinary Time.”
Are you stuck in Churchfest high gear? Do you look at the next few months and wonder how you’re going to get laundry done or if you’ll have time to go out and catch a movie? Is your calendar full of high and holy, of feast and festival, of this retreat that won’t really be much of one because you’re so far behind or that conference that just couldn’t come at a worse time but you have to go…?
Do what the Church has had to do. Find your “Ordinary Time.” Find the space and time to slow down, to look around between the decorations and the seasonal programming and see the faces of those who worship with you every Sunday. Find the space and time in your calendar to take a breath and hold it in.
When you do, you’ll find that it’s anything but ordinary…
(For some suggestions on ways to go deeper during Ordinary Time, check out this resource from Loyola Press.)