The word ordinary can feel like a synonym for “boring,” but Ordinary Time is far from it. This season takes its name from the ordinal numbers (first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and so on) that are used to count the Sundays and the weeks that follow them. While the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter have a certain importance in the liturgical year, that does not diminish Ordinary Time. Consider that as the priest prepares the paschal candle at the Easter Vigil, he states, “All time belongs to him.” How might you use this season to grow closer to God?
January 18–25 - Prayer for Christian Unity
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity spans an octave, or eight-day observance, a time frame that lends significance to the week. It is a great sorrow to be separated from our brothers and sisters in Christ, unable to join around the Eucharistic table together to “do this in memory of me.” We wait in hope in a special way during this week for the day when all divisions among Christians will cease.
January 25 - Conversion of St. Paul
This feast commemorates the day when Saul, an observant young Jewish man who opposed the early Christians and even participated in the stoning death of St. Stephen, had an encounter with the risen Jesus. Saul, also known as Paul, left behind his former life to become an apostle to the gentiles. To preach the Gospel, you might offer forgiveness and mercy to someone who is not sorry, serve a meal at a soup kitchen with a joyful heart, or drop off a box of diapers at a place that serves mothers and children. Today’s readings: Acts 22: 3–6 or Acts 9:1–22; Psalm 117:1bc, 2; Mark 16:15–18.
January 28 - St. Thomas Aquinas
Known as the angelic doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican priest whose writings are essential to the way we understand what we believe. He was a great theologian and philosopher, engaging with the intellectual currents of his day as well as those of ancient philosophy. St. Thomas described the beatific vision, unending happiness and union with God, as the goal of human life. Today’s readings: 2 Samuel 11:1–4a, 5–10a, 13–17; Psalm 51: 3–4, 5–6a, 6bcd–7, 10–11; Mark 4:26–34.
January 31 - St. John Bosco
St. John Bosco was an Italian priest who worked to improve the lives of young people who lived in poverty. He went into the world to encounter the young people who had traveled to the city to try to find a better life but were living in abject poverty and unsafe conditions. He began many initiatives and organizations to assist children and was the founder of a religious congregation. Today’s readings: 2 Samuel 15:13–14, 30, 16:5–13; Psalm 3:2–3, 4–5, 6–7; Mark 5:1–20.
February 2 - The Presentation of the Lord
This feast, forty days after Christmas, is traditionally a time to bring candles to church to be blessed. In Luke’s account of the Gospel, we hear Simeon proclaim Jesus “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel.” The Gospel according to John is also a source of the imagery of light associated with Jesus. Anna and Simeon watched and waited for the light throughout their lives. At times, it can be difficult to wait for what we most hope for. Watching and waiting for the light, we can unite ourselves with the waiting of Anna and Simeon. What desires of your heart are you still waiting to have fulfilled? You might decorate a tealight holder and light the candle to remind you to wait in hope. Today’s readings: Malachi 3:1–4, Psalm 24:7, 8, 9, 10; Hebrews 2:14–18; Luke 2: 22–40.