Making Ordinary Time Extraordinary

How to Prioritize Joy, Prayer and Works of Mercy Year-Round

“During the different seasons of the liturgical year, the Church … carries out the formation of the faithful by means of devotional practices, both interior and exterior, instruction and works of penance and mercy” (General Norms of the Liturgical Year and Calendar).
The Church celebrates two liturgical periods of Ordinary Time. The first follows the Advent and Christmas seasons, starting the Monday after the Baptism of the Lord and continuing until Ash Wednesday.

Currently, Catholics are in the second period of Ordinary Time, which began after Pentecost and will end at the First Sunday of Advent.

During Ordinary Time, the daily Mass readings focus on everyday events and Jesus’ teaching over the course of his life and ministry.

But Ordinary Time is not a stagnant or unimportant season; like all other seasons in the Church year, it is an ordered time for growth and a time to strengthen one’s spiritual life and be Christ to one’s neighbor, making Ordinary Time more extraordinary.


Finding Joy in Family Life

“We celebrate [liturgical] seasons intentionally and with the aim of a joyful spirit,” mentioned Colleen Swaim, Catholic wife and mother. One joyful and faith-based activity they host during ordinary time is their summer party during the “Fortnight for Freedom” (which was instituted by the U.S. bishops to promote religious freedom and ends July 4), “when we pray for religious freedom and [enjoy] a deluxe hot-dog bar inspired by various U.S. dioceses. The Archbishop Gomez ‘Los Angeles Dog,’ featuring guacamole, sprouts and sunflower seeds, is a favorite of mine,” Swaim recounted lightheartedly.

The Swaims also enjoy traveling during these less-busy seasons of Ordinary Time. When they do travel, they try to plan at least one pilgrimage day to a holy place, as Swaim said, “to immerse themselves in the Catholic milieu of the area they are exploring.”

In addition to celebrations and excursions during the seasons of Ordinary Time, Matt, radio host of the Son Rise Morning Show, and Colleen Swaim seize opportunities throughout the entire year to serve one another at home, through family life, with joy. “Matt’s love language is acts of service. When I’m feeling stressed out or just need a hand, his quick pace moves even faster than normal, and he’s able to whip up and down the basement stairs doing laundry like no husband I’ve ever encountered,” Swaim recounted.

Even simple, daily activities in the home become occasions of joy in their family life, giving them fuel to grow in faith and relationship with one another and with Christ. “On a daily basis, our family derives joy from cooking together, tending our gardens and taking the extra time to walk the mile to Mass, making an adventure of it,” Colleen mentioned. “Joyful living is essential to the Christian life.”


Going Deeper in Prayer

Ordinary Time is a season for prayer to increase in fervor, making prayer a daily routine and drawing closer to Christ as a steadfast disciple. Many Catholics take the opportunity to read daily devotionals or reflective books during the seasons of Ordinary Time. One such book suitable for this season is Michael Ortiz’ Like the First Morning: The Morning Offering as a Daily Renewal.

In Like the First Morning, Ortiz takes an in-depth look at the Morning Offering, an ancient devotion prayed at the beginning of each day as a way of consecrating one’s day to Jesus, helping readers become more open to God’s grace working in their lives through this popular prayer.

By praying the Morning Offering, and strengthening one’s prayer discipline in other ways, Catholics can approach Ordinary Time as a season to stay the course and continue celebrating the glory of God, living the Christian life and advancing in spiritual growth.


Serving One’s Neighbor

Jennifer Argo, homemaker and home-schooling mother of eight, started a simple but impactful meal-train ministry after discovering what a gift a meal was to her during a chaotic time in her own life. “I received my first meal after the birth of my second child. I thought it was the kindest thing that anyone had ever done for me! After that, I began to take meals to anyone I knew who had a new baby,” Argo said.

“I reached out to the small circle of new moms who I was spending time with and suggested that this was a ministry we could do for each other. It wasn’t something formal, but it became a blessing to each of us.”

Eventually, with the added ease of the website, Argo expanded the ministry to her local parish community, serving others during Ordinary Time and throughout the entire liturgical year.

“Whenever I hear of a need — a death, a birth or an illness, for example — I reach out to that person and offer to set up a meal train. The group of people who participates varies. My hope is that the family or person in need will receive a minimum of five meals.”

Argo makes sure to bring her faith into the entire process, praying while cooking and also having fun with her children, who add their own contributions by mixing salads, baking, making cards to accompany the meal or entertaining their younger siblings.

“I talk with my children about how this simple thing — making a meal — is fulfilling some of the corporal works of mercy. We are feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty. They get excited when they see that we are contributing to the body of Christ in a tangible way that they can relate to.”

Having been on the receiving end of a meal train, Argo recognizes the humility it requires to accept help from others, but sees how accepting generosity from friends and even strangers is a blessing to everyone involved.

“I believe it allows a receiving family the time to enjoy, grieve or recover, without the worry of feeding their family or themselves. They have the ability to focus their time and energy on what is most important at that time. It is a blessing to be able to provide nourishment for them, being Christ to our neighbor.”

Katie Warner writes from California. Her upcoming book Head & Heart will be released by Emmaus Road Publishing.