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Ordinary Time

May 24, 2021
Capuchin Retreat
Green priestly vestments

In the Catholic calendar, now that Pentecost is past, we return to “Ordinary Time.” In Church language, “ordinary” here simply means a way of counting days and weeks, using the “ordinal” numerals: first, second, third, and so forth.

But as soon as our minds see the word “ordinary” we easily jump to other meanings of that word: simple, plain, unremarkable. And perhaps that is the way we  judge many hours and days. “Oh, it was nothing special; just an ordinary day.” And we may want to be satisfied with that. Ordinary does not have to mean “boring” or “disappointing.”

We can, however, take another look at some ordinary moments and see that they can be special and not “merely ordinary.” To get a feel of that, I suggest looking back on some “small” moments which, recalled in memory, can now seem special. Maybe it was a recent visit with a friend, or noticing the visit of a hummingbird or other birds to the feeder. Maybe there was a chance, pleasant encounter with an old acquaintance at the grocery store. Ordinary and yet special.

Teachers of prayer are always urging us to pay attention to the present moment. Noticing how some past moments were special may encourage us to focus on new present moments and be willing to see that the moment has a special quality of its own.

You look across the table at a beloved face. You behold the fresh face of a grandchild. There is a special moment of prayer in church.  I see a mother duck and a row of ducklings in a parking lot (which I did!). These can be openings to gratitude: not merely “ordinary” at all.

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