Ordinary Time is a period of time that happens between Christmas and Lent and then later continues between Easter and Advent. Right now, we’re in the shorter section of Ordinary Time, and it’s quite short, since Lent begins on Feb. 18 this year
One thing is certain: the Catholic Church of northeastern Wisconsin is a church of profound hope. With trusting expectation, we are embracing the green liturgical color of Ordinary Time. Except for the sturdy evergreens, it has been a few months since we have seen anything green and growing outdoors. We bundle ourselves against the cold wind and the snow as we number the days until the green now displayed inside our churches is mirrored outdoors.
The climactic holidays are over, and so we are in a time of quiet and rest as we begin the count of days to Lent. It is back to school, back to work, back to real life, but not in any way are we back to a ho-hum church.
During this Ordinary Time, you will find everything a bit more simple. The church environment may consist mainly of some green plants or winter branches. The liturgies may not rely as much on solemn ritual or elaborate music or chanted prayers. Even the parish community may appear quieter. The hustle of Christmas is past and the preparations for spring are still a few weeks off.
Consider this as a time when you are being given the gift of time to do some of the spiritual things that you did not have the opportunity for during the big feast days.
This may be the time to come to Mass early, or remain after Mass and pray some of those traditional prayers that may often be overlooked. Perhaps you can pray a Rosary, or recite the Memorare, the Anima Christi or a favorite litany. Visit one of the devotional shrines in your church, say a specific prayer to that saint or light a votive candle.
Take Ordinary Time as a good opportunity to read the reflections in the worship aid, or read the scriptures that will be used at Mass. Pay attention to particular words that resonate with you, then listen. Will those same words be empathized during in the Liturgy of the Word or during the homily, or will another theme be presented for you to consider?
Check your parish bulletin. When is confession offered at your church? Is it before one of the Masses? You could choose to attend that Mass and come early enough to avail yourself of the sacrament as well.
Pay attention before, during and at the conclusion of Mass. Can you see areas where the church might be in need of help? Are there enough greeters or do you see one lone usher straightening the pews after Mass? Do you see something in the church that needs repair and could use your wood working or sewing skills? This is a good time of the year for those kinds of duties and tasks to be refreshed. Step forward, volunteer your time and talent.
Lived well, Ordinary Time can help us to be open to God’s goodness, blessings and riches within the family, church and our community. Let us wake up each day and thank the God for the opportunity to live another ordinary day.
Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.