The Christmas season is wonderful, but so is getting back into Ordinary time. After the last two weeks of the of sorting through the morass of exceptions and substitutions that occur during this odd liturgical leap year of Christmas-on-a-Sunday, it feels good to slip into the good old four week psalter, knowing it will be nothing but the four week psalter for a while. The only exceptions will be St. Paul on the 25th and the Presentation on Feb. 2. And adding concluding prayers from the proper of saints-- if you wish--on their memorials.
Ordinary time! I just love the sound of that. Back to the everyday routine of life. Take down the Christmas decor. Get back my desk, which housed an extensive nativity scene, complete with a carpet of forest moss, rocks, logs, and a creek of pea gravel crossed by a small bridge. The architect of this wonder of landscape design really outdid herself this year, but Oh! how nice to not have my papers and netbook all over the kitchen table, and then shoved onto a hall bench during meals. The stair rail is free of the stockings and garland, the horde of holiday figurines, electric window candles, and taped-to the door-frames Christmas cards are gone. The house looks so gloriously clean and uncluttered. A great time to rearrange the furniture a bit, and Bingo! you have a whole new house.
This is why mothers are the ones who have to take down the tree and decorations. They are the ones who actually enjoy the results. I used to complain about this lonely chore, but now I just enjoy it.
But the Liturgy of the Hours--and the mass--reminds us each day that Ordinary time is far from ordinary. Every day is still packed with praise and calls to glorify God. Every day we are still--if only we'd realized it--standing just outside the gates of heaven (or just inside them with blindfolds on). Some days we just rush through the words, but the repetitions are never vain. Every repetition helps engrave in our hearts beauties such as these:
In the land of my exile, I praise him.
He spoke; and it came to be,He commanded; it sprang into being.
In him do our hearts find joy.
My God stands by me, all my trust is in Him.
Father...let the radiance of your love scatter the gloom in our hearts. The light of heaven's love has restored us to life.
we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
And that's just a couple lines from one little "ordinary" day. The liturgy is one way that God shows us that the normal, the everyday, the uneventful fabric of life is actually shot through with strands of gold.