After the Christmas Season comes the Ordinary Time of the Year according to the Catholic Church’s Liturgical Calendar. We also feel the difference, especially now that all Christmas decorations were removed and kept in their proper places. Seeing the free spaces where once the Christmas cribs and decorations had been, the house looks spacious and somewhat empty; and, as one Sister remarked: “It feels also good when all the decorations are gone. One can breathe more freely.” Yet, decorating the house on occasions is also necessary. It sets the mood of the occasion, isn’t it? All things in its proper place, all celebrations in its own time. As Qoheleth says in the Book of Ecclesiastes (3:1-15): “There is an appointed time for everything…” There lies the beauty. We need variations in our daily life… It breaks the monotony. In the cloister, monotony can be a danger when we settle mechanically into the daily routine.
There are enough variations in our schedule, although, our life is so much structured and the daily regular schedule is more or less fixed. But what is most important and what gives color to our daily life is the prayer time in between. In the course of the day, we assemble in the chapel to pray the Choral Divine Office (the chanting of the Psalms) 7x a day. It is spread throughout the whole day to sanctify each hour. To sanctify the time means to make the hours and minutes, yes, even every moment, holy to the Lord; and, aside from the Divine Office, every 15 minutes the clock chimes and, whatever we are doing, alone or with another, we stop to pray the Quarter-Hour-Prayer, a legacy from our Blessed Founder, St. Arnold Janssen. This makes us mindful of the presence of God; and with this prayer, we praise and glorify the Most Blessed Trinity and we lift up to our God all of humanity, especially those who entrusted themselves to our prayers. Thus, our day and our daily life are sanctified to make of them an offering pleasing to God. When we are steeped in the spirit of prayer and are always aware that he is in our midst – more so because of Jesus’ Real Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament exposed in a Monstrance – then our day is far from ordinary; our prayer becomes unceasing, our whole life an intercession for all.
In the Ordinary Time, as in all the other special seasons of the year (Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter), we have every opportunity to discover the extraordinariness of everyday because our Lord walks with us, he dwells among us!