We are now well into the period of time on the church calendar that is known as “Ordinary Time.” There are actually two such stretches of time. The first, the shorter one, runs between Epiphany and Lent. The second and longer one runs between Pentecost and Advent.
The word “ordinary” has more than one meaning. It first refers to the “ordinal” numbers of the Sundays: for example, the 14th and 15th Sundays in Ordinary Time, or the 7th and 8th Sundays after Pentecost. But it’s more than a description of the numbers!
Hearing the word “ordinary” might prompt a yawn. There’s nothing glamorous about “ordinary”—that why it is ordinary! But that’s where the majority of life is lived. It’s in between the spectacular events, whether we’re thinking of holidays, like Easter and Christmas, or in our own lives, like graduation, marriage, or watching your team win the Super Bowl! (For me, that’s been a while!)
In her book, The Liturgical Year, the Benedictine author Joan Chittister describes how life meshes with Ordinary Time:
“It is what we do routinely, not what we do rarely, that delineates the character of a person. It is what we believe in the heart of us that determines what we do daily. It is what we bring to the nourishment of the soul that predicts the kind of soul we nurture. It’s what we do ordinarily, day by day, that gives an intimation of what we will do under stress. It is the daily—the way we act ordinarily, not rarely, that defines us as either kind, or angry, or faithful, or constant.”
That sentence, “It is what we do routinely, not what we do rarely, that delineates the character of a person,” is both challenging and comforting.
It is challenging in the sense that there really is no time like the present. The present is what we’re given; if we imagine that we’ll wait until something remarkable happens, we’re likely fooling ourselves. (I’ve often thought that I would get a bicycle for the exercise it provides. I have yet to do it!)
But it is comforting in the sense that we don’t need to wait for something remarkable. We’re surrounded by an infinite weight of glory right now. And looking at the church calendar, we’re reminded that every Sunday is a “little” Easter, every Sunday is the Lord’s Day, the celebration of resurrection.
Let us celebrate the splendor of the ordinary.