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Sep 272012
 

In the Catholic tradition we are well versed in the seasons of Advent and Christmas, Lent, Easter and Pentecost.  Those are the “heavyweights” of the church year, the ones that get most of the attention, require most of the preparation, and include the biggest celebrations.

Ordinary Time

Watching her grow!

But the rest of the year – actually, well more than half of every year – is known simply as “Ordinary Time.”  Ordinary means routine, day by day, nothing special, which is also how most of us live the greatest part of our lives.  And that’s a good thing!  We need those quieter times and in-between stretches to settle down, catch up, and level out.  That is true of the spiritual life as well.  Occasionally we are lifted to great heights, sometimes we are thrown into frightening depths; but most of the spiritual life is also ordinary, routine, day by day.

But don’t think that means there is nothing happening.

In the Catholic tradition, a color is associated with each liturgical season.  The color for the season of Ordinary Time is green, the color of growth, from the green of a backyard to the green of a farmer’s field.  In the realm of nature, growth is usually slow and unspectacular, which also describes most growth in the spiritual life.  Such growth takes time, calls for patience, and can usually be measured (if at all) over the long run, not day by day.

Once again, Nature teaches us God’s rhythms.  We would do well to make them our own, and give thanks for periods of Ordinary Time, when life, and growth, happen at their own pace.

Patrick Foley

May 252012
 

The word “conversion” usually brings to mind someone leaving one religious tradition and joining another, or perhaps joining a religious tradition for the first time.  Often it is seen as a singular, perhaps even dramatic event.  But the Hebrew-Christian scriptures present a different image.

Richard Walking a LabrynthIn this understanding, conversion begins every time I become aware that something other than the love of God has taken the central place in my heart and life.  This “something” need not be bad; in fact, it might be something very good: a job, a cause, a relationship, an activity.  The giveaway that it has become too central is that I am not free to lessen its importance in my life.  As good as it may be, it has enslaved me.  When that awareness is accompanied by the grace of remorse, the process of conversion has begun – or begun again.

Yes, conversion is a process – not a single event.  The Latin origins of the word reveal that it literally means, “to turn around.”  The act of turning around only points me in a new direction; but I am still standing where I was before.  Real conversion occurs as I begin, and then continue the journey of a new way of life and toward a new destination.  The Christian life is just such a journey: repeatedly becoming aware of how I have strayed from the path of the Gospel, and thus my need to change direction, a little or a lot, and return to “the Way” (as the earliest Christians called it).

Pat Foley

 

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This post was written by my friend and “Itinerant Papist Preacher” Fr. J. Patrick Foley of Sacramento, California.    For more about Father Foley visit his website at  http://www.itinerantpapistpreacher.com.

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