LIVING BY FAITH - July 2006

A letter for the ill, the aged, the shut-in, and the handicapable
Published by the National Family Commission
Secular Franciscan Order, USA

ORDINARY TIME

WHEW! Finally, the rush is over. All the trials and tribulations, the preparations and celebrations are done for another year. It dawned on me when I went to daily Mass and saw the green vestments. It was a very visual reminder that Pentecost has come and gone, and ordinary time has begun.

The colors of the vestments have, as always, symbolized the roller coaster ride we have all been on for over three months. In purple we experienced the sacrifice and prayer of Lent as it led to the intensity of Passion Week. Then we wore sacrificial red as we traveled with Jesusí disciples, going from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, to the wonder of the Last Supper, to the terror of the arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, to the horror and suffering of Good Friday, and the despair of Holy Saturday. All this was changed into the gold and white vestments exultantly proclaiming the joy of the Resurrection and Eastertide. In white we witnessed the awe of the Ascension, and finished the Easter Season with Pentecost, where red symbolized the transforming fire of the Holy Spirit. After all that, who isn't ready for the green vestments of Ordinary Time?

Even as we follow the Liturgical year in our faith, we can see that our lives reflect the same sort of rhythm. Most of our days are neither very sad nor very exciting, neither really horrible nor really fantastic. It is those times that give us perspective on our more intense experiences. After the wedding and honeymoon, newlywed couples will learn about married life in the day-to-day adjustments of living together. After the joyful celebration of a new birth, parents truly become fathers and mothers in the daily care of their baby. After the tears of a funeral, the routine of life can help us survive the loss of our loved ones. In ordinary time friends and families become closer. Ordinary time helps us to adjust to changes, handle our problems, deal with loss and renew our lives. Ordinary time gives us the opportunity to understand ourselves better. Ordinary time helps us grow.

In its wisdom, the Church has given us a year full of the holy preparation of Lent and Advent, and the holy celebration of Christmas and Easter. By far the biggest chunk of time is given to holy Ordinary Time.

Now that we are in Ordinary Time we can listen to Jesusí message in the light of all that we have experienced in Lent and Eastertide. Now we can put away the sackcloth and ashes of Lent, and carefully hang up get into our fancy Easter outfits. We can get into our comfortable clothes and relax a little. We'll be spending the summer and fall following Jesus around the Holy Land, seeing the miracles, hearing the parables and listening to his teachings. It's time for good, green, growing Ordinary Time.

Dorothea MacNeil

Previous issue (May 2006)