Today we celebrate Pentecost, the official “birthday” of the Church. And then we return to what is called, “ordinary” time. That seems an odd title doesn’t it? It suggests that we have been engaged in something important, and now we are returning to more mundane matters.
Perhaps in a sense that is true.
We have, ostensibly at least, been celebrating the Easter event for seven long weeks. I say ostensibly, because I imagine that after the last bite of Easter dinner was consumed, most thoughts began to turn to things of Spring and summer.
There were vegetable gardens to plan, flowers to plant, graduation festivities to prepare for. Summer vacations loomed in our moments of reverie as we went to work, cleaned house, and did all the usual duties of everyday living.
Suddenly, today we are struck with another Church “holiday”, that of Pentecost, and we, most of us that is, do a bit of “yeah yeah,” and return to plans for trips and long weekends at the lake or beach.
Is it strange that unlike Lent, which we seem more able to remain “in”, we cannot sustain the joy of Easter for much past that dinner? As much as we may love the Vigil Mass or the morning glory of Sunday, we pack away all our joy quickly and go about our business until the next “event.”
I’m not at all sure why that is. Perhaps it is the fact that in Lent we kind of know what to do. We give up things, we add things to do. We pray more, we limit ourselves in terms of pleasures. Post-Easter day dawns with no such instruction. We are freed from all the sacrifices of Lent, and have nothing to replace those things with. So we forget about it. Mostly.
We feel, I suspect, faintly guilty on Pentecost, because we have not been actively “preparing” in some way for the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit. Truth is, of course, we all have received that already, and we know it. The day is only to celebrate that gift, and hopefully renew in us that desire to do something with that gift as we were meant to.
So I suspect we do take Pentecost to heart–we listen to the homilies offered and think about how we can use our gift more effectively in the world. We think about it, as I said. But, ordinary time is upon us, and we quickly file away our good intentions and get onto the things of summer.
This time, ordinary time, is not ordinary at all in fact. It represents the reality of Christian life–it is mundane, it is every day. It is not exciting or filled with special dinners, or extraordinary masses and pageantry. It is where most of Christianity is lived out, in the trenches, where troubles occur, solutions are sought, accommodations are made, and realities are lived with.
It is in essence, the time when faith is usually most tested, for it is all just so ordinary. No tongues of fire, no voices from heaven, no perfect pastoral words hushing our minds and letting our souls explore eternity. The washer broke, spilling gallons of soapy water over the floor, and the plumber can’t be there until tomorrow. Maggie broke her arm and is crabby because her cast itches, and fairly nothing will appease her. David didn’t get the promotion he was hinted at, and is taking it out on the hedges and doesn’t want to talk about it.
Find God in all that, somehow, and keep on keeping your mind upon the Mass and upon the mystery of the Assumption as you intone another Hail Mary. That is ordinary–that is where we are asked to find God’s grace, love and upholding.
Ordinary time is the dirty time, of trusting in a God who isn’t so apparent, isn’t so exciting any more. It’s the hard work of growing faith in an atmosphere that is not providing you cues to help you along. It’s definitely a more “do it yourself” kind of time.
That God is all in that mess is true enough, but we have to dig Him out from under our disappointments, angers, frustrations, and fears. And that is what makes God so truly extraordinary. Because God is there, and when we realize that, we realize that He has always been there, always will be, and we leap forward once again on our great journey to union. Each reminder brings us a bit closer, reassures us a bit more, and makes the next bout with trouble easier to face.
So, as we enter this ordinary time once more, let us take a moment to just relax in our knowing, thanking God for being there for us, now and always. Rest in the loving embrace of grace.
- How I’m Celebrating Pentecost (suddenlybipolar.wordpress.com)
- Feast of Pentecost (johnmsfs.wordpress.com)
- Pentecost the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (vatopaidi.wordpress.com)