Monday, January 14, 2013

Why I Love Ordinary Time

This morning before Mass I watched our pastor lug a shoulderload of white and gold vestments on hangars from the sacristy to a storage area opposite. When he reemerged, his back was bent under a load of green, like a farmer bringing in fresh-cut grain.

Or like a locker-room manager: Father Barnes was swapping out one set of uniforms for another, putting away the colors of the Christmas season and bringing on Ordinary Time. These days pastors have to do it all.

I love Ordinary Time. I would like to imagine that the term is rooted in a Latin word like ordinarius, meaning maybe that all things are ordered according to Him, even the most ordinary.

But no.

In fact, the Latin term used by the Church is tempus per annum, translated as a very humdrum “time through the year.” Well, yeah. Duh.

Still, I love Ordinary Time. What I love about it goes way beyond the promise of green vestments, telling me that spring isn’t far away now, or spring training. Anyway, the current New England thaw will vanish beneath a blizzard soon; likewise, Ash Wednesday comes along (February 13 this year), and our green priests will be splashed again with purple.

The idea of Ordinary Time contains for me everything beautiful about being a regular, meat-and-potatoes Catholic, especially one who attends daily Mass and follows the lectionary with a certain minimal attention.

What Ordinary Time says to me is that my faith informs even the most ordinary days of my life. It says what my Protestant father said in his memoir when he wrote, “I’ve always had the impression that Catholics are in general more serious about their religion than Protestants.”

We Catholics give others this “impression” only when we are regular about our faith and proclaim it joyfully. So let me say it once again—

I love Ordinary Time!

Being Catholic, having the opportunity to receive the sacraments on any ordinary day, being encouraged to do so, may not have changed me as much as I might like, but it has made my experience of daily living extra-ordinary.

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