I don’t know about you, but my soul tends to get a little restless in the summer. I am on a spiritual high after the breathtaking beauty that is the Triduum, and that carries me easily through the joy-filled Easter season. But, once we settle into Ordinary Time, things feel, well . . . ordinary.
The Church’s use of ‘ordinary’ comes from ordinal, which means numbered, as in The 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time. However, I don’t think you would be hard-pressed to find a Catholic that equates ‘ordinary’ with ‘common’ or ‘regular,’ even when speaking liturgically.
Ordinary Time may be lacking the pensive longing of Advent, or the perfect joy of Christmas, or the penitential austerity of Lent, or the rich solemnity of the Triduum, or the exuberant glory of Easter. But, it isn’t exactly ordinary, is it?
Seeing Ordinary Time as ordinary is kind of a delightful paradox.
On the one hand, there is a beautiful, and distinctively Catholic tendency to see the Holy in the ordinary. Through the Incarnation, Jesus sanctified humanity. He took on the nature of a humble, helpless baby; son of unassuming, seemingly ordinary Mary and Joseph.
In the words of Thomas Merton,
“I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
It is because of the Incarnation that we can recognize the face of God in strangers, in the homeless, in our neighbors, in our enemies. It is because of the Incarnation that we can turn dirty dishes and piles laundry into prayers.
But, on the other hand, can we honestly call anything about the Catholic Church ordinary?
We believe that God became Man and humbled himself so as to die for our sins. We believe that He conquered death and gave mankind the gift of everlasting life. We believe that each day, in Churches across the world, ordinary bread and wine become the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that in all of those Masses we are made present at the one True Sacrifice of Calvary. We believe that Heaven and Earth meet in the Mass.
None of that seems like it should be ordinary. But, we experience it every week. And, some of us are even able to experience it everyday. The mysterious, the miraculous, the extraordinary has been made ordinary. In the Incarnation, God becomes Man so that Man might become like God; the extraordinary becomes ordinary so that the ordinary might become extraordinary.
Do you see the extraordinary in the ordinary–or the ordinary in the extraordinary?
Copyright 2017 Amanda Torres