We have now reached the end of the Christmas season, and in the days ahead I know that many families, parents, children and teachers will be busy preparing for the new academic year. This year is a strange one in lots of ways; but one of the strange things is that just having finished the beautiful season of Christmas, the season of Lent is just around the corner. In fact, Ash Wednesday falls on the 14th February. That is just one month away.
Between the sacred seasons of the year, such as Advent and Christmas and Lent and Easter, we are living in what the Church calls Ordinary Time. I have always found this a strange term to use, because at the heart of our faith lies the belief that no day is ordinary. Every single day is transformed for us by the love of God.
We know that the Gospels are each primarily concerned with the event of the birth of Jesus, followed by His three years of public ministry, leading up to the saving events of the crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus. But for the most part, the hidden years in between are scarcely mentioned at all in the Gospels. But this does not mean that those were simply ordinary years. Indeed, we can be certain that each and every day in the life of the Holy Family was understood by them to be an unfolding of the love of God in their life together, and in a growing understanding of the call of Jesus to be the Redeemer of the world.
We ourselves can be caught up in a sense of the routine of life, and take our days and weeks for granted, not paying much attention to the fact that, through the love of God, no day is ordinary. Indeed, we only ever have today to express our love of God and for one another. In other words, we cannot take any single day for granted.
We can be helped in our reflections on the holiness of each day by turning to a French writer, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, who wrote a wonderful book almost 300 years ago, known as The Sacrament of the Present Moment. This book has remained in print ever since, and has proven to be most helpful in assisting us to find God always and everywhere. I am including a few quotes from his wonderful book:
The Infinite Riches of the Present Moment
“The present moment holds infinite riches beyond your wildest dreams, but you will only enjoy them to the extent of your faith and love. The more a soul loves, the more it longs, the more it hopes, the more it finds. The will of God is manifest in each moment, an immense ocean which the heart only fathoms in so far as it overflows with faith, trust, and love.”
Discover God in the Smallest and Most Ordinary Things
“To discover God in the smallest and most ordinary things, as well as in the greatest, is to possess a rare and sublime faith. To find contentment in the present moment is to relish and adore the divine will in the succession of all the things to be done and suffered which make up the duty to the present moment.”
Make Use of Everything
“Those who have abandoned themselves to God always lead mysterious lives and receive from him exceptional and miraculous gifts by means of the most ordinary, natural and chance experiences in which there appears to be nothing unusual. The simplest sermon, the most banal conversation, the least erudite books become a source of knowledge and wisdom to these souls by virtue of God’s purpose. This is why they carefully pick up crumbs which clever minds tread under foot, for to them everything is precious and a source of enrichment. They exist in a state of total impartiality, neglecting nothing, respecting and making use of everything.”
May each of us recognise the presence of God in the midst of what appears to be ordinary daily life. We will find treasures beyond all our imagining.
Fr Gerard, CSsR