Happy return to Ordinary Time! Right now, there are all sorts of discussions of what a “new normal” is going to look like— people are wondering if will we still hug friends, have parties, continue to wear masks to the grocery story, etc.
The Church, though, in her wisdom, is inviting us not into a new normal, but into ordinary time. Before we get a sense of the mundane when we hear ‘ordinary time’, allow me to suggest a few ways to approach these ordinary days ahead.
‘Ordinary’ comes from a root word meaning ordered, arranged, set into a series. Who, then, is it that does the arranging of our lives? Are we here to dispose of our lives however we see fit, or is this the time to allow God the honor of arranging our lives? If someone took a look at our schedule, would they think that God had something to do with it, or does it only have our fingerprints on it? Can this be the season when we let our schedules become ordinary?
‘Ordinary’ also has the same root as the word ‘ordain’. This is a time for the lay faithful, who participate in the priesthood of Christ as His Body, and our deacons, priests, and bishops, who participate in the priesthood of Christ as His Head, to live out this vocation. Priests offer sacrifice. Our sacrifice is laying down our own lives before God. If someone took a look at how we’re living, would they think that God had already received all that we have? Could this be the season we allow our lives to be sacrificially ordinary?
‘Ordinary’ has the same underlying root as the word ‘harmony’ (it really does—check out the Online Etymology Dictionary!). This is a time for seeking harmony in ourselves, our families, and our community. Harmony is when different sights, different sounds, different actions are better together than they were apart. Not everyone will play the same notes at the same time, but everyone will be playing the same song. Harmony seeks out that larger beauty. If someone took a look at us, would they see harmony between our thoughts, our actions, and our desires? Would they see harmony in our homes, and hear how everyone is joining in a common work in their own way? Would they see harmony in our community, or would they see each household in our neighborhood playing solos of their own songs? Will we use this season to become orchestrally ordinary?
‘Ordinary’ also shares that underlying root with the words ‘ornament’ and ‘adorn’. St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.” God desires to transform us, to glorify us, to make us beautiful. If someone took a look at us, would they think that we have let Him adorn us? Dare we, in this season, let Him make us beautifully ordinary?
This is the season to embrace the fullness of what is ordinary. When the Holy Spirit is the one giving the orders, whatever kind of normalcy the world is expecting had better watch out: we are a people made ordinary.
Happy Ordinary Time!
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