In the Catholic faith, we have seasons, just like the season of the weather. The year begins with the season of Advent, followed by Christmas. We then move into Ordinary time which is broken up by Lent and Easter. Then we return to Ordinary time.
Last weekend brought the Christmas season to a close with and began Ordinary time. Each of these seasons has a purpose or a focus. For example, Advent is a time to prepare for receiving Jesus into our lives. Christmas is a season where we recognize the union of God with ourselves. Lent is the Season of penance and Easter is a season for celebrating Jesus victory over sin and death.
The question that some may ask is: What is the focus of Ordinary time? I often look at Ordinary time a season where we ought to be getting better at doing the “ordinary” things of our Catholic faith.
Have you ever noticed how many professionals say they are “practicing” their work? For example, a doctor “practices” medicine. Or a lawyer “practices” law. This indicates that they are always striving to be better at their work. They never view themselves as having perfected it and never want decline. They always want to be better and every day is an opportunity to improve.
This is the attitude we ought to have toward our faith, particularly in Ordinary time. This season of Ordinary time is a when we ought to be striving to improve ourselves spiritually. We should begin by asking the question: Where do I need to improve as a disciple of Jesus Christ? We ought not only focus on which sins should we strive to eliminate, but also where should we grow? Perhaps we need to grow in our prayer life, both in time and in quality of our prayer. Maybe we need to be more generous with our resources. Possibly we need to be better at our vocation to marriage and the family life.
I will recommend two books to help during this Ordinary time. The first is An Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Frances de Sales. This is a collection of letters that St. Frances de Sales wrote to a cousin on how to grow in the spiritual life. The second book is the Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. The Screwtape Letters are fictional letters written from one demon to another demon on how to prevent humans from being good disciples of Jesus Christ.
However you choose to enter into Ordinary time, do not miss the opportunity to “practice” your faith well and always improve on building your relationship with Jesus Christ.
Fr. Nels Gjengdahl