by Erik Ritland
There is a beautiful rhythm to the Church year. Times of reflection, penance, and fasting (Advent, Lent) are counterbalanced by lengthy celebrations of great joy (Christmas and Easter).
In between, the Church spends a prolonged period of time it deftly and brilliantly calls ordinary.
After the intense cycle from Advent to Easter, culminating in Pentecost Sunday, it's easy to see Ordinary Time as the lightweight portion of the Church year. Indeed, nothing can compare to the drama and emotional significance of celebrating God becoming a human being, emptying himself to save us, and rising again to vindicate his claims and give us concrete hope for both the present and our ultimate future.
Yet, since we aren't focusing on specific aspects of the theo-drama during Ordinary Time, we are freer to concentrate on cultivating our unique, personal relationship with God in a wide variety of ways.
We can deeper into the Bible, especially by following the Daily Mass Readings (which give an overview of the entire Bible in a three-year cycle). It is also a good time to focus on deepening our intimacy with God through prayer. We can do this by spending more time with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration, saying the Rosary for specific intentions, or picking up Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours.
A beautiful aspect of Christianity is that there are as many ways of being a Christian – and deepening our relationship with God – as there are people. God made us specifically who we are for a reason: because he wanted us specifically. He reaches out to us where we are as truly unique individuals that are infinitely special in his eyes.
It is our job to figure out what we need to do to cultivate our personal relationship with God, and to answer our calling to be the best possible version of ourselves. That is, fully alive. Ordinary Time is a blessed opportunity to focus on what we need to do to make those things happen.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician. He is the lead staff writer and podcast host of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, which features commentary on music, sports, and an intellectual ragbag. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Curious North and Hometown Hustle. Reach him via email.
Erik Ritland received his MA in Theology in 2017. He's the founder and content manager of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, copy editor and writer for Music in Minnesota, and an acclaimed songwriter.