In the Catholic and other liturgical traditions, a large part of the church year is a season called Ordinary Time. It refers not only to the period of time between Epiphany and Lent but also to the many months between Pentecost and Advent.
Modern language usage of the word "ordinary" may imply dullness, but that assumption couldn't be further from the intention of the season. The name originated from the root meaning of "ordered" or "numbered," which indicates that this period is a time for assessing areas in your life that need growth or improvement and getting things in line. There are several ways to approach this process.
One of the first items on your to-do list for making the most of Ordinary Time is taking an honest assessment of where you are. Spend a couple of weeks journaling about your spiritual life, whatever that entails. For example, if prayer is a big part of your practice, jot down when you pray and what you pray about. Writing down what you actually do (as opposed to what you think you do) can open your eyes to areas where you want to see improvement.
Once you have a clear picture of how your spiritual practices are going, the next step is making goals for growth and finding resources to help you. Do you want to get back into the habit of reading scripture on a daily basis? Look for devotionals or ask church leaders about links to your denomination's lessons. If you are satisfied with your personal practice but want to get more involved in serving the community, find several organizations that take volunteers and attend informational sessions to see if you might be a good fit.
The spiritual life isn't all about work. You also need to take time to celebrate God's creation and gifts, and Ordinary Time is a great season for doing so. It is a break from churchwide fasts, and it even includes several key feast days:
- Trinity Sunday
- All Saints Day
- Christ the King Sunday
You don't have to wait for an official feast day to enjoy the bounty of God's blessing and be thankful for it, though. When it's nice outside, go on picnics with your family or put together a larger event for your church. When the fall days usher in cooler temperatures, host a soup supper. Any chance to fellowship with other believers is a great way to celebrate.
As you recognize the abundance of your own life, you are likely to feel compelled to pour out those blessings to others. Organize a drive for people in need in your community. During the summer, your church can collect bottled water or canned food to supplement the depleting supplies of food banks. When the school year begins, you can gather school supplies to help out parents and teachers for whom this yearly cost is a burden. As you approach Thanksgiving and Advent, donate socks, coats, and other warm clothing to homeless shelters.
One of the greatest blessings of Ordinary Time is the emphasis on encountering the supernatural in everyday life. Make sure you leave time to reflect on how you see God in the little things you do out of habit. Opportunities for spiritual enlightenment abound in every aspect of your life, whether it's taking care of your family or helping out a frustrated customer. You don't have to wait for busy, festive seasons to engage more with God.
Even in seasons when not much seems to be happening on the surface, people of faith can still find opportunities to enhance their spiritual journeys. Ordinary Time reminds you to notice how extraordinary the blessings of your everyday life actually are.