Fr. Rusty's Corner

Turn Four: Thoughts from Your Parish Priest

Ordinary Time

 

This week we begin the season of Ordinary Time in the Church.  It may seem like Ordinary Time is a normal or a low time, because our understanding of ordinary is “whatever is usual”.  The thing is that the Church would define ordinary and extraordinary differently than we would usually understand it.  We typically think of extraordinary as something incredible or special, while ordinary as something as normal or even dull. In the Church, however, ordinary is something to be desired and normal is something good. 

A good example of this can be seen in the difference between an ordinary and extraordinary minister of Communion.  If you serve in this ministry, the calendar will list you as an extraordinary minister.  The reason for this is that a priest or a deacon are considered to be ordinary ministers of Communion.  What this means is that it’s the norm for me to distribute Communion and a distinction of my ordination as a priest.  Unfortunately, we have a lack of priests in the parish and the diocese to properly distribute Communion at Mass, so lay people are asked to be ministers.  Laity are call extraordinary ministers, because they are ministers outside of the normal circumstances for Communion at Mass due to the shortage of priests and deacons.  I do want to say it is not a negative, and I am very grateful for those of you who serve at Mass in this way so that we can properly have Communion.  This example reminds us that ordinary is something that would be normal circumstances and extraordinary are when the circumstances require extra action to fulfill a need. 

In seeing this, we can get a clearer understanding of what Ordinary Time means.  It is not a time when the Church takes a break or goes into a slumber between Christmas and Easter.  It is a time of normalcy in our Church that promotes growth, which is why I would wear green vestments during this time of the year.  Green represents the normal growth we should be experiencing as Christians.  In the General Instruction, the definition of Ordinary Time is the yearly time in the cycle of the seasons of the Church “in which no particular aspect of the mystery of Christ is celebrated, but rather the mystery of Christ itself is honored in its fullness, especially on Sundays.”  At Christmas and Easter, we focus on specific aspects of Christ and His mission in the Incarnation and Paschal Mystery, but during Ordinary Time we focus on the fullness of who Christ is and why He came.  For us, this means we are seeking to make the norm in our lives to live as Christ teaches and commands.  We are becoming images of Christ.  So the norm the Church seeks to challenge us to during Ordinary Time is to bring the fullness of Christ to our lives; for Christ to be the driving force in our ordinary daily lives in our actions and words.  If that is the case, then we are not entering into a season that allows us to take a break or go back to our normal lives, but it is a season that makes a life of holiness the norm. 

I will admit seeking the life of holiness and seeking to become saints seems like something extraordinary.  How many of us really feel like we are on the path to sainthood at this very moment?  That is what the Church is teaching us during this season.  The norm is to seek to be a saint, so let us look to Christ so that what may seem extraordinary may become an ordinary thing in our lives.

- Fr. Rusty Vincent


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