In the spring of my senior year of high school, I remember having a conversation with my dad about a sense of waiting I was experiencing before college began. The previous fall had been action packed and successful for a variety of reasons - the tennis team had a great season (I was the captain), I had won a few writing awards, finished a senior project that involved resurrecting the school newspaper, sent off college applications and then in early spring got accepted to my first choice school. So, things had been exciting. And then they got very un-exciting as all of that died down and the year coasted to an end and I waited for what came next.
I must have complained about this, and my dad simply explained that things are not always going to be exciting. As a matter of fact, most of life will not be all accolades and new beginnings. Much of life is just simply being in the here and now of routine existence, and that I should probably get used to it.
I thought of this last Sunday looking in the missal and the readings for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time. "Ordinary Time." We are 14 weeks out from Easter, from the joy and excitement of that new beginning, and the reflective time of Lent which preceded it. That season is exciting (even Lent) because you are asked to be more attuned to your inner life and relationship with God, and everything occurring within the church community supports this. Then of course, the celebration of the risen Christ - well, it's the biggest thing there is.
A little piece of me had that same feeling of, "This is it? How many weeks until the next special season?" How do I keep up that joy and excitement for my spiritual life that comes so much easier during times like Easter or Advent, when it seems like the whole world is watching and celebrating?
But ordinary time is so important - just as important as the holy seasons. In ordinary time, I think we see ourselves most clearly in terms of where we truly are in our faith life. If we are, indeed, all called to be saints, then the habits we have during ordinary time show how close we are to getting there. In ordinary time you try to remain faithful in your church attendance without a holiday giving you a reason to go; you still strive to voluntarily give back your time, money and energy, even though it's not the Christmas season; you stick to your prayer routine even though it's not a part of a Lenten promise to do something sacrificial. In other words, during ordinary time we are given the opportunity to truly live out the faith in a very real, consistent way, without the accolades and excitement that come with the holy seasons.
As Frank Duff wrote in Can We Be Saints, a saint is "One who, with the object of pleasing God, does his ordinary duties extraordinarily well. Such a life may be lived out without a single wonder in it, arouse little notice, be soon forgotten, and yet be the life of one of God's dearest friends. "
In other words, ordinary time is a chance to accomplish extraordinary things. We want to look to those special times of year with joy and excitement while remembering that most of our time here on earth will be set on the ordinary, while always striving to be a good person and brightening our little corner of the world. We can do this with love in our hearts and a face turned to God, no matter the time of year.