The Easter season ends on Sunday, May 15, with the celebration of Pentecost. It’s time to put the last glorious peals of “Alleluia” away and get on with the season of Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time gets its name from the fact that the Sundays are identified by their ordinal number, beginning with Sunday 1 in January and ending with Sunday 34 in November. It has no special theme, no special character, no special call to believers—other than the gospel, which is call enough for anyone.
What is our call during Ordinary Time then? St. Benedict sums it all up in simple phrases: “Listen with the ear of the heart” (see RB Prologue 1), “Seek God in all things” (see RB 58:6), “Prefer nothing to the love of Christ” (see RB 4:21,72:11 “Run in the path of the gospel” (see RB Prologue 42-33, 49). Simple, not easy. Quick to read, not quick to live up to. Undemanding to read, but not undemanding to live.
When Lent gave way to Easter, our chaplain suggested that as we made Lenten resolutions, we should think of making Easter resolutions. With the power of the Spirit that blew the first disciples out of their hiding place in the Upper Room into the streets, armed only with faith, hope, love and the Word of God, we also walk out into the highways and byways of Ordinary Time similarly armed. To focus that renewed Spirit energy, we might think about making three resolutions for Ordinary Time: one for summer, one for fall, one for those winter weeks between the Baptism of the Lord and Ash Wednesday.
Our experiences of Lent and Easter will have reawakened our desire to pursue the great goal set before us by St. Paul: “to know Christ Jesus” (cf. Phil 3:10). That desire lies at the core of all of St. Benedict’s dircctives. Lent will have taught us something about the road that leads to its fulfillment. We have come from our Lenten path humbled by a new awareness of the stumbling blocks we often put before our own feet and yet the power of Christ drawing us on toward the renewal of our baptismal promises at Easter. The Easter season follows the first disciples in their early years of learning the hard way how to know and follow Christ dead and risen and still with them, though unseen. If you missed out on the daily lectionary readings of from the Acts of the Apostles, you might want to pick the book up yourself and read it as a mirror of your own life in the various communal circles to which you belong.
But the best companion for the long journey of Ordinary Time is the four gospels. Do you have a favorite? Do you have one you haven’t really explored yet? Choose one as your map and guide to the ordinary daily Christian life to which you are committed. And why not read it with the Rule of St. Benedict in hand? Look up what St. Benedict has to say about repenting and believing in the gospel (Mark 1:14-15), or living a life defined by the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-12) , or paying greater attention to lepers and Samaritans, whoever they are in your life (Luke). That kind of reading is a work of translation from Jesus’ day to Benedict’s to ours, sometimes gleaning surprises along the way.
Have a good trip!
Copyright 2016, Abbey of St. Walburga