Like most of my fellow college-aged single Catholics, I enjoy asking married couples for advice. One of the most profound things I’ve ever heard from one of these long-lasting relationships was that everyday that you’re with the special person in your life is a day to celebrate and show your appreciation for them.
Think about it — couples universally celebrate their love for each other on days like Valentine’s Day or anniversaries. While this is definitely awesome to do, people don’t need a special holiday to choose to love their spouses.
This is the same attitude we should have with the Liturgy. We don’t need a special occasion like Christmas or Easter to celebrate our relationship with Jesus in the sacrament of Eucharist or to connect to it in a special way. Although it may feel like the same Mass every week with just different readings, it doesn’t mean that the Mass is “boring.”
During Ordinary Time is when we hear the most about Jesus’ everyday life. If we are to model our lives after Him, who we meet the gospels, we have to examine everything that they tell us. While it may be harder to get pumped up for Mass each week during Ordinary Time, we have to dive into each Mass fully focused if we’re to get the same effect that we get for special spiritual seasons.
As you try to enter into every week, challenge yourself to learn something about the Mass. Be careful though. You’ll go insane trying to understand transubstantiation like it’s an exam you’re cramming for. Here are some tips to make ordinary time everything but ordinary (pun slightly intended).
Lectio Divina (for the Mass)
Think of a certain phrase or a certain word said during the liturgy and pray about it. It’s not going to be easy to do this during the Mass so save the examination for later. In a quiet time, go through the phrase the same way you would with a scripture verse for Lectio Divina. It’s easy to just utter the words during Mass and move along but the Eucharist means so much more when we value every word around it.
Another thing we can do is to read the Sunday Scriptures before the Mass begins. If we take time during the week to prepare and read the readings, we’ll be able to enter in more fully when we’re at Mass. Instead of hearing them for the first time during Mass, we aren’t surprised by what is told during the readings and can better dive into the Mass. A great way to do this on your own is to make use of Ascend, a resource designed specifically for helping readers prepare for the upcoming Sunday’s Mass readings.
When we’re flooded with just so much during holy seasons, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with all the different traditions. In Ordinary Time, we are less likely to be surprised by certain aspects of the mass because each Mass is almost identical to each other. This makes it easier for people to focus, feel less “out of it” and really make the Mass an experience and not just something we spectate.
On a similar note, when we walk into mass, we should be ready for the celebration. Take some time before mass to, as my parish puts it, “put your phone on prayer mode.” Less distractions allow our mass experience to be more worthwhile.
Comfort Zones are Meant to be Broken
Mass isn’t meant to be experienced like a class that you go to every week. Get out of your comfort zone and go to a different Mass time every week (or if you’re feeling really bold, go to a parish that you haven’t been to before).
If we go to the same Mass every week, we can become creatures of habit, making it harder for us to get a special experience from Mass. While this new Mass may not have your favorite priest with the funny homilies or music that you know, the only thing that matters is the Eucharist.
Pick up a Good Habit and Lose a Bad One
Ordinary Time is a great time to start new prayer habits. Attempt something you haven’t before. Daily Scripture reflections, keeping a journal, more frequent trips to confession, reading a spiritual book; the list goes on and on.
On the other hand, you can also try to stop something that doesn’t bring you closer to God. For example, try to shorten down the amount of time you spend on social media.
Ordinary Time might seem repetitive but this is a great time to dive deeper into your spiritual life. Keep calm and rock Ordinary Time.