Simply stated the Church liturgical year is Advent-Christmas, followed by ORDINARY TIME and then Lent-Easter. We all know the 12 days of Christmas and the 50 days of the Easter season. The birth of Jesus and his death-resurrection are both too big to celebrate in one day. The in-between period between these two great events is ordinary time. Ordinary time is lower key, a waiting and quiet anticipating the next great celebration as we go about doing what needs to done today.
I see a parallel in the last 7 months of my life to the rhythm of the liturgical year. Discovering terminal cancer, informing people and getting their response was something like Advent-Christmas. It was way too big to do in a day or even in a few weeks. People’s discovery of my situation and their initial response went on for over two months.
As I communicated with and entertained people in those first few months, I assumed for most of them it would be my last contact with them. Statistically stage IV pancreatic cancer does not permit its victim a very long life.
However as I moved through the end of summer and beginning of the fall I realized that there was going to be this in-between period. I am in “ordinary time”. It is more a time of waiting and anticipating the next great event: my birth into eternal life.
To be honest, with the first 2 or 3 friends that I had tearfully said “goodbye” to and now they were back, I felt somewhat awkward. But they quickly pointed out that this was blessing, another grace from God in our relationship.
So I am in ORDINARY TIME. Waiting, quietly anticipating my Easter which is the fullness of our faith. As I slowly begin to physically decrease I think I understand a little more this Paschal Mystery of death to new life. When this “dying to self” becomes physical, it creates a new level of experience and understanding.
In speaking or preaching about ordinary time I always pointed out there is nothing “ordinary” about ordinary time. Jesus has taken our humanity and has offered us a share in his divinity. He has already given his life for us. It is an extraordinary time of living already what is yet to be! (Ok spend some time thinking about THAT!)
There is nothing ordinary about this period in my living, in my dying. God’s holy people supporting me and sharing life with me has been a powerful experience of the Communion of Saints. The grace (presence) of God strongly sustaining me is an almost overwhelming experience of grace. God’s purifying love for ME never known so intensely! This is an extraordinary time for me.
Recently someone inquired if, after my death they could ask me to intercede on their behalf. Jokingly I said the request made an assumption of WHERE I would be. Then I told her she did not have to wait until my death to ask for my intercession. A former spiritual director of mine, after hearing of my plight asked me to pray for a specific intention. He observed that my prayers are more powerful now that I am fully and consciously immersed into the Paschal Mystery. I agree. I am not sure I have ever felt closer to the Lord.
There is an ancient Advent prayer Maranatha usually translated as Come Lord, Come. As I await my Easter, it has become my prayer in ordinary time: COME LORD JESUS, COME !
I understand some people have left messages for me on Facebook. I have not checked FB for several months.