The Blessedly Mundane — By Terri Brown

Terri-BrownI have never been accused of being especially devout, nor am I theologically well informed. I am an ordinary Catholic woman.

As a child, when purple vestments made their appearance at Mass, excitement was sure to follow, whether it was Advent or Lent — though Lent did come with some privation to my 10-year-old mind. Saying the Rosary each day with my family, on our knees, and giving up one day of television a week (excepting Sunday) to name some.

Ordinary Time comprises two periods: the first period begins on the day after the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and ends on the day before Ash Wednesday; the second period begins on the Monday after Pentecost — the conclusion of the Easter season — and continues until the Saturday before the First Sunday of Advent.

I cherish green vestments at Mass; Ordinary Time. We often use the word “ordinary” as a synonym for “mundane” or “every day.” And those meanings apply to the liturgical calendar, too, in that most days are not Easter, just as 364 days of every 365-day year are not my birthday. We mark special days in special ways, but we know that the love and faithfulness are formed and shaped by the daily work of prayer and life. It is in the “ordinary time” of church life that the good seed is sown.

Ordinary time is when we build strength to help carry our friends and family to God when they are too weak to walk to God, just as they carry me when I struggle with trouble and doubt.

Ordinary time is extraordinary. The choices of music for Mass are broader; the songs can be celebratory or more melancholy. Introducing new music is easier.

Lent is a time of inner reflection. Easter is a time for rejoicing in the Resurrection of Our Lord and the promises He brings. Advent is anticipation. Christmas we rejoice in the birth of Our Lord (and the relief from all the festivities!). Advent has a wreath. Christmas has a tree. Lent has ashes and palms. Easter has fire and water and lilies and signs of new life. Symbols are so important for us to allow religious meaning to enter into our lives. Through symbols we actually assign meaning to ordinary things. It is a sacramental thing to do.

Walking can be a great Ordinary Time activity. Of course, we could use this as an opportunity to walk more than we usually do, but we can also use every time we walk somewhere in the ordinary course of our daily routine — even if it is down the hall or out to the car or from the parking lot to the store — as a moment to turn to our God and acknowledge that we are not alone and that God is with us. We are on this journey together. It can be very simple and become an easy habit to develop. And, before long, our ordinary walking from here to there expresses communion, acceptance, obedience, and even a profound alignment of my life with God’s loving mission for me.

Prayer before a meal can become an important practice in Ordinary Time. It can be an opportunity to thank God for this food and for those who prepared it and to remind ourselves to be more thoughtful of those who have so much less than we do. However, it can also be a time to explicitly acknowledge the Ordinary Time Season we are in. With some practice, we can pause, even very briefly, to remember something from the past Sunday’s liturgy, which was helpful or a blessing in some way, for this day.

During Ordinary Time we celebrate the blessedly mundane and the ho-hum of everyday life.