Embrace the ordinary

| Deacon Gordon Bird | June 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

More green hues are seen from the pews and a new weekly numbering scheme commences as Ordinary Time picks up on the momentum of Pentecost. Two thousand years ago or so, no time was squandered as the age of the Holy Spirit manifested in the early Church. Baptizing, teaching, preaching and transforming hearts and minds to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ via the evangelization efforts of his disciples was alive and well.

The present moment makes it our turn as Catholic Christians to follow the lead of those before us ­­— given our gifts from God — making even the ordinary not seem really so ordinary. Pentecost empowered the Apostles with the Holy Spirit, and they soon began to better understand the teachings of Jesus’ earthly ministry. “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). It took no ordinary effort in the days of the early Church to reach the hearts of those thousands of first converts as did Peter and the rest of the apostles. After that, with some exceptions, it was pretty much about small groups.

Indeed, much of the conversion today is a result of ordinary personal relationships within and outside the family — the parish and the greater community. It is a result of Christians embracing the ordinary times of life to follow the command that Jesus instilled in his first disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). Today that may look like parents bringing babies to baptisms, friends inviting their unchurched friends to casual fellowship activities, and evangelists engaging boldly, compassionately and articulately in the streets and in the thickets. No matter where we reside, as Christians, we are always to be on watch for family, friends, strangers and ourselves. This is the kind of work that continues during ordinary times.

Our Lord exhorted his followers to “watch at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Lk 21:36). Feasting, fasting, atoning and roaming, we are to press on in prayer and stay watchful for self and others. We are to heed the word that Jesus told his disciples to take to heart, as their name implies: discipline. Hence, there is merit in this ordinary time to embracing the seven disciplines established for the Catholic Watchmen. There is merit to embracing the seven practices in ordinary ways — and at all times — to help avoid being overcome by the worldly things (e.g. pleasure, possessions, power and wealth) of which Jesus often warned.

Embrace three daily practices:

1) Praying with persistence and with devotion to the first Holy Family ­­— the first domestic church. Establishing habitual moments for prayers such as the Liturgy of the Hours or timely novenas to the Holy Spirit or the Sacred Heart of Jesus brings breadth and depth to a prayer life with family and friends. My go-to favorite is to embrace the Angelus at the hours of 6 a.m., noon and 6 p.m.

2) Encounter Jesus in sacred Scripture, and you will learn endlessly what it means to be watchful and more prepared to bring others with whom you engage to his saving knowledge.

3) Strive to be spiritual leaders like Joseph and Mary, who raised Jesus as he grew in strength and wisdom. Read passages in the Bible that reveal examples of their self-sacrificial leadership.

Embrace two weekly practices:

1) Engage fully in every Sunday Mass, and take your family or friends to learn the goodness, beauty and truth of the highest level of prayer in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

2) Serve your community as a witness to your faith and to others. Read the story of the sheep and the goats (Mt 25:31-46) — you’ll get it. Humbly serving those in need provides many graces to both the needy and the servant.

Embrace two monthly practices:

1) Go to confession. Nothing may be more healing, transforming and re-energizing than the sacrament of reconciliation. Try it and you will keep coming back.

2) Build brotherhood and sisterhood and evangelize men and women in monthly parish gatherings. Post-Pentecost — in ordinary ways and times — it was largely about small groups gathering, praying together, reading Scripture, sharing meals and keeping each other accountable.

Embrace the ordinary days!

Deacon Bird ministers at St. Joseph in Rosemount, All Saints in Lakeville, and assists the Catholic Watchmen movement of the archdiocese’s Office of Evangelization. Reach him at gordonbird@rocketmail.com. Learn about the archdiocese’s Catholic Watchmen initiative at thecatholicwatchmen.com.

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Category: Catholic Watchmen