Anything BUT Ordinary!

On my way to the parish this morning I saw a Christmas Tree on the back of an old pickup truck. I know, you probably saw many, too, over the past few weeks, but since this is almost mid-January, I knew in my heart it was being discarded, not being brought on a journey home to be loved and adorned with lights and bright cheery colored ornaments. Yes, Epiphany is past, and Christmas is over and Ordinary Time will soon begin again.

I think that is why I love Ordinary Time so much. Most folks look forward to Easter or Christmas, or even Advent or Lent, but I look to Ordinary Time to settle into God and allow God to work within me to make me a better person. It is as if God uses this time to discard my old ‘Christmas trees’ and show me how to be a better person, a better Christian. 

Ordinary Time is the season of the Church year when Catholics are encouraged to grow and mature in daily expression of their faith outside the great seasons of celebration of Christmas and Easter and the great periods of penance of Advent and Lent. It is a time to deepen one’s prayer life, read the Scriptures, unite more deeply with the Lord in the Eucharist on amore regular basis, and become a more holy, and by doing so, a whole person.

This is why we are bringing in a brand-new Sunday Missal! It all begins this Sunday, January 14th and changes, while seemingly small, are huge in relation to what we are as a People fo God here at Saint Miriam! For at least 50 years liturgists have been discussing whether the Penitential Act in the Order of Mass ought to be repositioned. Although for centuries it was in the Prayers at the Foot of Altar and was carried from there into the Introductory Rites of the 1969 Ordo Missae, the proposal has been to move it to the end of the Liturgy of the Word. Placing it here after the scriptures have been proclaimed would give a better context for repentance. Or to put it another way, we may not yet be ready for repentance so early in the Mass.

By way of a quick overview, these are the main things you will notice!

  1. The entrance and opening are the same except the Kyrie and Confiteor are moved!
  2. The Gloria will be followed by the Opening Prayer
  3. The readings will follow and a homily.
  4. The Creed is placed as it was followed by Prayer of the Faithful 
  5. BUT THEN we segue to Reconciliation! 
  6. After we reconcile with one another, a short Kyrie follows, and the Sign of Peace
  7. Once that all occurs, we are better equipped to bring up the Gifts to the Altar because we are clean and in love with one another again!

I even have the support of Pope Benedict XVI! In his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (2007) he was not happy with the present positioning of the Sign of Peace, which he found could be disruptive (para 49). His footnote to this paragraph stated the following:

(150) Taking into account ancient and venerable customs and the wishes expressed by the Synod Fathers, I have asked the competent curial offices to study the possibility of moving the sign of peace to another place, such as before the presentation of the gifts at the altar. To do so would also serve as a significant reminder of the Lord’s insistence that we be reconciled with others before offering our gifts to God (cf. Mt 5:23 ff.); cf. Propositio 23.

We agree that by modifying the Order of Mass (Missal) to reposition the Penitential Act and Sign of Peace at the end of the Liturgy of the Word could be of benefit to us as worshippers. We pray you will find it life changing, as well. 

I know it will be a little different for a few Sundays, bur I have found that no matter who we are, or how powerful a position we might hold, most of us live ordinary lives with ordinary days in which we know our best and our worst self and everything in-between. We have our days when we can bring joy, patience, and gratitude to others, and there are those days, too, when we need hope, trust, and a forgiving heart to put one foot in front of the other. It is in these ordinary days that the extraordinary mystery of God’s faithful love accomplishes saints-in-the-making! And this is why we are moving ahead with this change now. 

And, if one is lucky enough, every once in a while, as I have found, someone comes along to make us feel loved and whole. We are put on a right path and look at the world differently. We are reminded through the gift of another human being, that we are loved, and that God loves us. We are shown that our imperfections are minor and that our heart and soul matter more than any transgression or any broken pieces. This is why I value Ordinary Time; it is in the ordinariness of life that God comes. 

For the transformation of ourselves, and of our world, we must live intentionally within the magnificent gesture of God’s saving grace and gifts. The wisdom of our liturgical year, as Catholics, reminds us of this. Our ordinary lives are holy because it is here – with one another – that we experience who we are and who our God is for us.

St. Francis once reminded us, “Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that have received–only what you have given.” 

May this coming change be a reminder that we are woven more tightly together than we often believe. 

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