Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Update Your Liturgical Calendar

Is there a liturgical calendar app?  I update my Google calendar, but usually not the liturgical variety.  

As a Youth Minister, however, I do pay more attention to the Church cal than the average person might.  The Christmas season is now officially over, and we enter Ordinary Time.  To me, Christmas sort of implies "time for conversion - time to refocus my life."  Ordinary time sounds like "time to get back into my normal, busy routine."  Ordinary means plain, undistinguished, commonplace, and can imply mediocrity. 

Yet most of the Church calendar is made up of Ordinary Time?  

I'm sure you could Google "Ordinary Time" and pull up some neat reflections on the matter.  I will offer mine here:  

Ordinary Time = Work.  

Christmas is a blessed time.  It can also be incredibly distracting.  But, in the midst of gifts, family, parties, and excited children, there is this event that keeps popping up:  The Birth of Christ.  The Church responds with the nativity scene, poinsettias everywhere, candles, incense, exuberant music and lights.  The sensory overload takes some of the burden off our shoulders.  We don't have to look too hard to pick out some really neat spiritual messages for our lives.  
But Ordinary Time = Work.  Work is hard.  It implies something I have to do on my part.  It implies showing up, being present and pouring over the everyday duties...some of which seem pretty menial.  

The work for us in Ordinary Time is a work of awareness and conversion.  How is Christ present in my daily life and what is this relationship with Him calling me to?  

A few weeks ago I had an experience that highlights these two points.  My 14 month old was learning how to crawl down stairs.  She mastered the crawling backwards thing, and quickly moved onto a backward slide on her belly.  I was very proud (as I will be when she puts a helmet-like contraption on and decides to sled down the stairs on a pillow).  

In this moment of fatherhood, looking on at my daughter's joy and being completely content with my role of watching over her safety and happiness, I realized that my heart was overflowing with joy.  The moment was complete:  love and joy shared by father and daughter.  

As her magic ride down the stairs ended, I was immediately struck by the event.  I had been so completely happy during her descent, and now the moment, the unrepeatable moment was over and I stood there in sadness.  My daughter will grow up, she will learn how to walk, how to walk down stairs, and so on.  This realization that a moment of such pure joy and happiness could never return was sadness.  

And conversion.  

Awareness of my deepest desires in the moment - to experience happiness like that forever - point me to One who promises our happiness without end.  This is the moment of conversion for all of us.  It is the point where we recognize (usually over and over again) that Christ is our happiness, our life, our hope, our joy.  

May Ordinary Time be one of extraordinary work and grace. 

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