Ordinary Times.

This picture basically has nothing to do with anything. Other than the fact that delicious donuts are absolutely an ordinary grace.

This picture basically has nothing to do with anything. Other than the fact that delicious donuts are absolutely an ordinary grace.

Well, we made it. Through the holidays/new year/end of the Christmas season. And where does that leave us? Plopped right in the middle of January (also known as the month that never ends . . .), and at the start of Ordinary Time.

Ordinary. I used to hate that word – I feared it, really. After all, what good can come from something that is merely ordinary? Shouldn’t I be striving towards the extraordinary instead of “settling” for the ordinary?

The reality is that just like most of the Church’s liturgical season is composed of ordinary time, most of our lives are filled with the ordinary. Sure there are the ups and the downs, things that warrant celebrations and sorrow – but most of it falls into the category of “ordinary”.

I have started to get in the habit of recounting my day as I brush my teeth at night (I brush my teeth in the morning, too. Don’t worry!!). As I am standing there thinking about the day, I try to remember three things that I am grateful for and three things that I could have done better. (For those of you wondering, this is what we call the examination of conscience for those that have short attention spans). During this time, I am constantly amazed at the things that stick out to me from the day, most of which are “ordinary”.

I had someone tell me last week that this time in my life isn’t necessarily hard (it’s actually pretty simple), but it is taxing. I am being called in a unique way during this time to give of myself in really ordinary ways. And although I know that it is all (please God) for the good of the Church and the Kingdom, it is hard to not think that everything is going unnoticed. However, when I really take a step back, I have been humbled time and time again when I have seen how God has so graciously given me extraordinary grace to power through the ordinary.

I’m comforted in knowing that our Blessed Lord – who certainly could have done anything that He wanted – spent most of His life (30 of the 33 years) leading a sort of ordinary life. Those 30 years that Jesus spent were rather ordinary – but what followed was absolutely extraordinary. And that’s just it – Jesus can only do really extraordinary things through us if we are faithful in the ordinary.

When I’m really honest with myself, the ordinary things that I have been able to experience – and really appreciate! – are some of the most beautiful. Kind emails from highschoolers thanking me for what I am doing, quick phone calls catching up with friends, the privilege of seeing Catholic family life lived out – all these ordinary things have filled my heart in an extraordinary way.

So I’m learning to not be so afraid of the ordinary. After all, this ordinary time – where so much of the Church year is lived out – provides such a privileged chance to see God in the details. The joy that is found in recounting the ordinary moments of each day is a breath of fresh air compared to a world that tells us we need to constantly be moving on to bigger and better things. And mostly, I’m grateful for a God that continually presents Himself in the extraordinary, yes, but also in the ordinary.

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On Seeking.

As always, thanks to Fr. Bradley for the picture!

                                                         As always, thanks to Fr. Bradley for the picture!

This time of year – especially the detox from the holidays – always seems to bring about a lot of emotions for me. (Those that know me are laughing, since I’m a prreettyyyyy emotional person). Anyways!

There just seems to be no shortage of feelings – anticipation during Advent, overwhelmed at the thought of God becoming Man, joy of being with family, stress that can the holidays bring, gratitude for all that is good, and humility for where we seem to always fall short.

As I found myself over these past few weeks jumping from one place to another St. Louis – Pittsburgh – Minnesota – St. Louis – Nashville – and finnaallyyyyyy St. Louis, I found myself thinking a lot about these feelings. The same feelings that make us human, yet make us weary of sharing our humanity with others. I don’t know if that’s universally true, but I know it’s true for me. It is when I’m most overwhelmed – with whatever the emotion is – that I have the hardest time running to others, and most problematically to God.

It’s no coincidence that all these thoughts are culminating on this day – January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany. On the day where the Church celebrates (can I still say that if it was technically celebrated this past Sunday? Anyone?), I’m reminded that the only thing that matters is that I am following that star.

When I was in Nashville, I had the privilege of stopping over at the FOCUS (an awesome national organization that seeks to spread the Gospel on college campuses) conference. This conference – which is appropriately called “SEEK” consisted of almost 10,000 college students doing exactly what the wisemen did 2000 years ago – dropping everything and following the Lord at all costs.

As I had the privilege of seeing the joy on the faces of all who SEEK, I found myself that day so in awe – of a God that is so big and a Church that is so wide. I kid you not, I ran into SIXTEEN people that day that I did not expect to see. Friends from high school, college, random trips, and friends of friends. It was absurd moment after absurd moment of God reminding me that we are not alone in this journey of seeking the one who is Love.

Unfortunately, in day to day life, it often feels like I am clawing, frantically grabbing towards God rather than fearlessly seeking after Him with the knowledge that others are doing the same. And you know what? That’s okay. When things seem hard, when the emotions are harder, there is just one thing that matters. That we still seek Him. That we seek Him in the good, the bad, the hard, the emotional. That we seek Him because we know that He is Love – that we seek Him because the star is always shining us, and the darkness will not be overcome.

Tomorrow is my 23rd birthday – birthdays always hold a new promise. The promise of a new year, clean slate, another chance to get it right. But my hope is that this year will hold joy in the journey, and confidence in the knowledge that the path has been cleared before me. After all, wise men (and women!) still seek Him.

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