Make Ordinary Time an Extraordinary Season for Prayer

How can you make the transition from Christmas to Lent a holy one? Here are three ideas inspired by the saints.

Brace yourselves: Christmas is officially over. Ordinary Time is once again upon us.

For many Catholics, it may be hard to think that the short month between the end of Christmas season (January 10) and the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday (February 10) is anything extraordinary. In our day-to-day grind, the start of the new year following the holidays can often feel like an all-too-ordinary time. We can easily lose our sense of the hopeful spirit of expectation in Advent and the joyful spirit of celebration in Christmas; some of us may jump straight ahead to Lent, already deciding what Lenten sacrifice to make and stocking up on fish sticks for those soon-to-be meatless Fridays.

However, the short break of Ordinary Time between Christmas and Lent is anything but ordinary. The seasons of Ordinary Time throughout the liturgical year lets us focus on the “ordinary times” of Christ among us — how He traveled through Judea instructing His disciples, healing the sick and bringing good news to the poor. During these next few weeks, we as a Church have the opportunity to seek Christ in the very ordinariness of our lives, all so that He may work in us in extraordinary ways.

There are few who could ever serve as better examples of bringing Christ into our ordinariness than the saints. Here are a few ideas, inspired by these holy men and women of God, for us to make this stretch of Ordinary Time a holy and extraordinary season of prayer.

1. "Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much.  You can never love her more than Jesus did." — St. Maximilian Kolbe

As we liturgically return to the ordinary times of Christ’s life, one person we should look to is His Blessed Mother. With her “yes” to the Lord, Mary accepted and welcomed God into her ordinary earthly life, and by doing so God was able to work through her to change the destiny of the world for all time. We too should follow Mary’s example in welcoming God in, particularly in the ordinary.

Our Catholic tradition holds many beautiful devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Praying the rosary daily during Ordinary Time and meditating upon each of the mysteries is a beautiful way to walk and pray through the life of Christ alongside our Blessed Mother. Other Marian prayers and novenas can offer us an opportunity to pray for Mary’s intercession, asking her to help us as we strive to model our lives after Christ her son.

2. “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” St. Jerome

Another way to take advantage of this season is by paying close attention to the Scriptures. The Gospel readings for Mass during Ordinary Time primarily relate Christ moving among His people, along with the call of the first disciples and the first miracles Jesus performed.

Throughout this season, take the chance to pray through those readings and reflect on the life of Christ at the start of His ministry. A simple way to do this type of prayer is through Lectio Divina, the practice of meditation and contemplation with the Scriptures. For a basic introduction and method for Lectio Divina, click here.

3. “Give something, however small, to the one in need. For it is not small to one who has nothing. Neither is it small to God, if we have given what we could.” St. Gregory of Nazianzus

Along with St. Gregory Nazianzen, many saints — not to mention Christ Himself — have said that serving the poor is essential for anyone striving for holiness. While the giving of alms acquires a special emphasis during the season of Lent, we should seek to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the mourning and visit the sick and incarcerated during all seasons of the year.

As another great saint of the modern Church — Pope Saint John Paul II — has said, “Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.” In every season of life, especially the seasons of Ordinary Time, Christ is calling us to share in the wonderful adventure of a life with Him. During this not-so-ordinary time between Christmas and Lent, let us take the opportunity to draw our Lord close so that He may work through our lives in extraordinary ways.

How will you make this season of Ordinary Time extraordinary? Tell us in the comments.

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