Monday, January 12, 2009

Ordinary Time...

One of the fun things about writing this blog is having an opportunity to address all things liturgical. (Liturgy is one of my passions. I am the Assistant Liturgist in our monastic community which means that I get to write the Prayer of the Faithful, plan Office hymns after Christmas and Easter and even plan the Sunday celebration from time to time. More importantly, I get to learn from the master. Our prioress is also our liturgist and she is renowned within our small Benedictine world for her gifts in this area.)

Today begins the 1st Week of Ordinary Time. The word, “ordinary” comes from “ordinal” meaning, “numbered.” In our contemporary usage, “ordinary” means: average, dull, without decoration, or having no special meaning. These contemporary meanings do not properly reflect the liturgical season. Ordinary Time is ordered or numbered. It lasts either 33 or 34 weeks. Ordinary Time begins after the Christmas season ends and lasts until Lent. Then, the season continues between the Easter season and Advent. If you look at the liturgical calendar, this season represents two slices of the pie.

So, how do we get the word out that these weeks are anything but “ordinary”? Certainly, there will good preaching on this very subject. And, GOD’s little ones in religious education classes will be learning to understand the calendar. Perhaps, as adults alive in the faith, it would be helpful in this new season to contemplate time, in general – time as GOD’s gift.

In the book of Genesis, we’re given two beautiful accounts of the creation of the world. GOD brings everything into being in six days time, and models for us the sacredness of Sabbath rest. Our Jewish brothers and sisters believe that there have been 5769 years since the creation. The ancient Romans used the sun and the moon to govern their days. Pope Gregory VIII gave Christendom the current calendar which uses the approximate birth of Christ as the point of demarcation.

Since the dawn of human history, we have endeavored to number our days. This quantitative analysis has helped us to see the hand of GOD in history and to mark moments of great joy and sorrow. How wonderful to look back on the previous year and count my blessings. How wonderful to think of the months ahead punctuated by special days and feasts of the Lord. Time is GOD’s gift to us. And, like every gift, it must be received in freedom.

When we allow time to become the enemy and the determinant of our good deeds, we lose possession of the gift. When we buy into the cultural mandate that “time is money,” the gift is beyond our grasp. Yes, the “world” does not understand this kind of thinking, but the Church, in her wisdom, grounds us in the Liturgical Year. Our days are ordered according to the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ. No other calendar is more important in the life of the faithful. During Ordinary Time we’re encouraged to contemplate the active ministry of the Savior. We hear the words of Jesus in parable and preaching. We revisit the miracles of healing – bodily and spiritual. We share in the adventures of twelve brave men and the women of faith who accompanied Jesus throughout his three-year mission. There is truly nothing ordinary here. And, as the graces of these weeks are felt and received, we will continue to awaken to the Christ-life within us – the force of love than makes every human day extra-ordinary, a unique moment in the life of grace. So, as the wreaths come down and the green vestments go on, let us be grateful for the gift of time – the days, months and years we’ve each been given to come to know the love of GOD for us in Christ. We have only this moment – our next breath – in which to give GOD praise.

Blessings and love to you all,
- Sister Vicki