Counting the days and blessings

By | January 11, 2012

Ordinary Time has arrived. What a relief! After Advent preparation, Christmas intensity and the feasts of Mary the Mother of God and Epiphany, we are ready for Ordinary Time. If you are hoping for a few weeks to sit back in a pew and slide through the liturgy with the same music, the same homilies, the same ritual, the church has a surprise for you.

Ordinary Time derived its name from the Latin word ordinalis, which means “showing order, denoting an order of succession.” Ordinary Time does not mean that we can become blah Catholics; rather it means we are alert, counting the days to our next period of Christian transformation — Lent and Easter.

Ordinary Time occurs twice a year, the period between Easter and Advent and now the shorter period between Christmas and Ash Wednesday. When you attend Mass this weekend, it will be the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time. Last Sunday was Epiphany; so what happened to the First Sunday of Ordinary Time? In the church calendar, Ordinary Time begins the day after the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Therefore, when Sunday comes around we have already been in Ordinary Time; this year for almost a week already. It is for that reason we never have a First Sunday of Ordinary Time.

The liturgical color for Ordinary Time is green. In your church, you may see the shades of deep forest green rather than the bright green of summer. A few poinsettias might linger, but green will be the dominant color perhaps accented with the icy white of winter, or white birch, dry weeds or later in the season, the first pussy willows.

Since Ordinary Time is about counting, make each day a time to count your blessings. Find a small notebook and each day write down things for which you are thankful. Think of the little things like a warm bed with clean sheets, a cup of coffee or a smile received from a coworker. Perhaps you could bring your notebook on Sunday and prepare before Mass by “praying” your gratitude book. Plan to take some time to sit by a warm fire or in a cozy chair and read the Scriptures, to gaze upon an evening winter sky and contemplate your place in the Christian journey. Appreciate a more subdued environment that will allow you to focus more intently on Jesus in the Eucharist.

It is approximately 40 days to Ash Wednesday. Let’s make each day “count.”

Zahorik is director of worship at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Oshkosh.

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