4 Ways to Make the Most of Ordinary Time
There is a common misconception among both Catholics and non-Catholics that Ordinary Time is the “boring” part of the Church’s liturgical year. We are not in the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, or Easter, and so there is no readily apparent sense or object of anticipation or joy. It can be easy to celebrate during Easter, or to look forward with determination toward Christmas during Advent. But how do we focus our spiritual energy during Ordinary Time?
First, we should understand that “ordinary” in this usage does not mean “not special.” Rather, “ordinary” refers to time that is ordered. The Church names the weeks of Ordinary Time in numerical order. In the liturgical year, Ordinary Time is split into two periods: the weeks between the end of the Christmas season and Ash Wednesday, and the weeks between Pentecost and the First Sunday of Advent. During these periods, the Scripture readings bring us through the ministry and teaching of Jesus and encourage us to grow in our faith as part of everyday life.
It is also important to realize that we are still in a state of both celebration and anticipation during Ordinary Time, though in a different way than during the other liturgical seasons. In Ordinary Time, we live joyfully as we participate in the life of Christ and celebrate the Eucharist, and we also anticipate the Second Coming of Christ.
If we are truly dedicating ourselves to growing in faith during Ordinary Time, our lives as Christians will be anything but ordinary. Still, it can be challenging at times to focus our spiritual energy. Here are some ways you can make the most out of Ordinary Time to strengthen your faith life:
1. Continue a devotion you started during another liturgical season.
Many people choose to begin a new devotion, such as saying the Rosary or going to daily Mass, during a particular liturgical season, especially Lent. If you are able, try continuing a devotion you began into Ordinary Time. You may find that the devotion becomes a spiritual habit and an essential part of your daily life, which will strength your relationship with God. Even if you don’t continue this devotion forever, chances are that you will experience it in a different light when you practice it during Ordinary Time. You will be able to apply your prayer to everyday life, giving those seemingly mundane moments new meaning.
2. Begin a new devotion.
It can be tempting to treat prayer or devotions like New Year’s resolutions, and to begin them only when a special liturgical season starts. This is not a bad thing, as linking a new devotion to a season can truly enrich that season in a person’s spiritual life. But these decisions should be thoughtful: we should not procrastinate with prayer. You can begin a new devotion at any time if you feel moved to do so. If you do make radical changes to your prayer life, it is a good idea to talk about these changes with your parish priest or spiritual director.
3. Read the daily Scripture readings.
We get a sense of a story when we listen to the three Scripture readings each Sunday. But the story told in the Bible is even richer than that. During Ordinary Time, try doing the daily readings to get a clearer sense of what is happening in the Old Testament and to follow Jesus along during his ministry in the New Testament. If you prefer, you can listen to the readings as part of the CatholicTV Mass. You might be surprised to see how the readings apply to what is happening in your life right now.
4. Seek to be like Jesus in small things.
As Christians, we are constantly seeking to become more and more like Christ. Ordinary Time is a perfect season to really put this into practice. Without the busy preparations or celebrations of the other liturgical seasons, you can use the relative calm of Ordinary Time to be on the lookout for those small moments when you can be like Jesus. Guided by the Holy Spirit, you have the opportunity to seek out moments when you can fully do God’s will. By building up this habit during Ordinary Time, you will start to see that your spiritual life and your everyday life don’t have to be separate things.