Not-so-ordinary time

The Easter season has been over for a few weeks now. Have you noticed the changes in church? The pretty flowers are put away, the sprinkling rite has been phased out, the great sense of joyfulness seems to have been tempered. We are now full swing in the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time, isn’t that just another word for boring time? Isn’t that just our default season in the liturgical year as we wait for Advent and Christmas to roll around?

Each of the other liturgical seasons have a decidedly marked atmosphere to them, don’t they? They are either times of intense preparation and penance, or times of intense joy and celebration. All of the other seasons celebrate the highlights of the Gospel story; we prepare for and celebrate Christs’ birth during Advent and Christmas; we prepare for and celebrate the Paschal Mystery – the passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ – during Lent and Eatser. What’s left to celebrate after all of this? Everything in between of course! Ordinary Time celebrates nothing less than the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. There is nothing ordinary about that! Ordinary Time is a time, to take the time, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. We listen to his parables, we wonder at his miracles, and we are challenged by his teachings. In short, we become like the first disciples, taking the time to learn to be like our Master.

We all know that the liturgical color for ordinary time is green. Nothing about Catholic liturgy is happenstance. The color we choose to decorate our liturgical space is no exception. Green is a color of abundance. Green is the most popular decorating color. Green is the most prevalent color found in nature. Green occupies more space in the spectrum visible to the human eye. Green is everywhere – especially this time of year. Phycologists tells us that the color green elicits soothing and relaxing feelings for both the mind and body. The color green can help calm anxiety and nervousness; even depression. The color green conveys renewal, self-control, and harmony.
What can we learn about the correlation between the color green and its liturgical use during Ordinary Time?As one of my favorite theologians Stanley Hauerwas puts it – to be a follower of Jesus is to begin to follow the “grain of the universe.” In other words, there is nothing so natural as to align your life with the Creator of life. As we begin to listen to, reflect upon, and change our lives according to the Gospel stories which portray the everyday life of Jesus Christ (which is exactly what we do doing Ordinary Time)  we can be sure that His promise of hope and peace will be ours.

To “go against the grain” may be cool when it comes to culture, but when your dealing with God it is better to follow His plan. The color green reminds us that as followers of Christ we to be hopeful, grateful, joyful, and peaceful. I think the prayer the priest prays as the Assembly finishes the Lord’s Prayer during Mass sums up perfectly what Ordinary Time is all about. “Lord, deliver us from evil and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ, for the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory are His, now and forever. Amen!


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