Making the Most of Ordinary Time

by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

With the feast of Corpus Christi (the Body and Blood of Christ) now behind us, the liturgical year returns to what is known as “ordinary time.” This season will last until the new liturgical year begins with the first Sunday of Advent. A few years back, Phyllis Tickle wrote The Graces We Remember: Sacred Days of Ordinary Time. In it, she tells of the experiences she and her family shared during the summer and fall on the farm she and her husband owned. The point of “The Graces We Remember” was that ordinary time was anything but ordinary.

It is interesting that the Gospel readings for ordinary time focus on the work of Jesus. In the weeks to come, we will hear of Jesus’ teaching and his miracles. We will see him instructing his followers and healing the sick and taking time away to pray. It is in this season of ordinary time that Jesus both tells and shows us how to live.

And so it is with us. We tend to mark life by the big events – the births and deaths, the weddings and graduations. Indeed, these things are very important, but it is in the nitty-gritty of every day existence that life gets lived. Life is full of ordinary moments – of preparing meals, and doing laundry, cleaning up messes, going for walks, holding a child’s hand, planting flowers, going to work and coming back home. We are often so busy waiting for the next big event, that we miss the importance of the every day moments. The big events may frame our lives, but it is the smaller moments that give it its color. If we pay attention to those ordinary moments, we just may find a few miracles mixed in.

It is in ordinary time that our children grow and change and learn new skills. It is in ordinary time that love between spouses deepens through the small kindnesses shown to each other. It is in ordinary time that the older generation shares its hard-earned wisdom and tells stories of days gone by. It is in ordinary time that memories are made.

It is in ordinary time that our spiritual life is developed as well. While Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter provide a special opportunity to deepen our prayer life and our faith, ordinary time tests our commitment. Do we remain faithful when we aren’t in crisis or celebration mode? Do we turn to God only in our hour of need or do we make time for God on a regular basis even when life is just going on one day at a time?

Ordinary time is full of promise. Every moment is graced by God. We need only pay attention to agree with Phyllis Tickle that ordinary time isn’t ordinary at all.

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur is editor of Spiritual Woman and author of Letters to Mary from a Young MotherVisit her blogs at and
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