How do you feel about the word ordinary? What does it do within you? Ordinary is not the most popular word in the English language. As a matter of fact it is far from it, though it need not be. Because the word ordinary comes from the word ordinalis which refers to numbers in a series (ordinal numbers are first, second, third, fourth, etc.) and ultimately comes from the Latin root ordo, from which we get the word order. So if the word ordinary does not conjure up good images for us, maybe we should look at its origin—its parents if you will—and see how we feel about the word order. I, for one, was never really drawn to the word ordinary, particularly in my younger days. Although I’ll have to say that the older I get, the more the word has grown on me in a very good way, especially considering its roots. I am, however, really drawn to the word order. There’s just something about it that I like.
When it comes to the church calendar, Ordinary Time—which is the part of the story we find ourselves in at this particular moment—is often viewed in very much the same way. All of the other seasons have a particular aim, focus, or feast attached to them it seems; making them feel especially significant. Therefore, when we come to Ordinary Time, it is easy to view it as something lesser or inferior in quality because of its lack of those elements. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Ordinary Time is not inferior at all; it is actually quite the opposite. Ordinary Time is the place in which we live most of our lives; which if for no other reason makes it incredibly significant, in and of itself. But it is also the season in which we learn the art of loving and following Jesus in the context of our every-day lives; walking with and living for him on a day to day basis. In the words of Philip Reinders: “With all the big holidays and celebrations over, Ordinary Time offers us the space to find our place in God’s story. We’ve celebrated and taken in the momentous life of Jesus; now we need a long stretch of days to absorb and assimilate it. In Ordinary Time, we fully take in the gospel, allowing it to take shape in our daily living, making connections between Jesus’ story and our lives”.
Therefore, Ordinary Time is of incredible significance. For not only is it the largest segment of the liturgical year, but it is also, by its very nature, the season where we learn the significance of taking care to order our lives in certain ways. In the words of Richard Foster: “We fool ourselves if we think that such a sacramental way of living is automatic. This kind of living communion does not just fall on our heads. We must desire it and seek it out. We must order our lives in particular ways.” Ordinary Time is the time and the season where we must do just that; where we prayerfully order our lives in ways that create fruitful space for God to move and to work and to act...and that's not just ordinary, it's extraordinary!
Also, if you're looking for some music for the season, here's a fun little discovery...