Monday, May 31, 2010

Nothing ordinary about "ordinary" time

As we celebrated the Feast of All Saints yesterday and kick off the Apostles' Fast today, so we also return to the usually non festal "ordinary" time. This is when the offices have little to no special variables, Vespers and Orthros of the Sundays will generally have no additional special hymns and the rubrics are generally simplified. And as "ordinary time" coincides roughly with the start of summer, there is also a noticeable drop off in "normal" church related activities, let alone attendance at Liturgy by the faithful.

When I was at the Monastery of St. Gregory Palamas last year in July, I remarked to the abbot, Fr. Joseph, that being here during the fasting and festal seasons would really be spiritually beneficial to me as opposed to the ordinary cycle of services. Fr. Joseph was puzzled by my statement and then he looked at me and said that there is nothing ordinary about ordinary time. He said that this season is the best time of all to become reacquainted and develop relationships with the saints whom we may not know very well. And developing relationships with them, we develop their love for Christ since Christ is glorified in His Saints. That really got me thinking and forced me to really reevaluate what I had said.

For the past four months, we have used the Triodion and the Pentecostarion service books. Now, we must put them away for the Paraklitike and the Octoechos, at least for another year. Sure, it's easy to get excited about the Great Lenten fast with its struggle and its austerity, to rejoice in the Resurrection of Christ and his 40 days on earth, culminating in the sending of the Holy Spirit. We go from fasting to feasting and then we seem to be in an in-between area. The Apostles' Fast is not as austere as the Great Lenten Fast and its variability of length from four days (new calendar) to four weeks makes it very easy to just cast aside as something not very important.

It's easy (or maybe just easier) to see the Christ in Christmas or in Pascha or in any other fasting and feasting season. The challenge is to embrace Christ just the same in a non-festal setting by honoring and venerating His Saints. As many people go to the gym at this time of year getting in shape for beach season, this is the perfect chance for us to pray the "ordinary" prayers with the "ordinary" saints to embrace what is extraordinary, the grace of our Lord, still poured out even on a regular old day.


  1. Oh dear! My spiritual state must be very poor indeed. I find myself lamenting the closing of the Pentecostarion because it means that the business of comptiling the weekend services at my parish involves more work. In the Pentecostarion, the Octoechos hymns are all neatly in their place already, and the menaion very much takes a back seat. Once All Saints has been and gone, this all changes. All of a sudden, it must all be worked out again. Fr John Whiteford's site is useful for many of the Sundays but he follows the standard ROCOR calendar. Even if he didn, he is based in North America so his weekly materials make no provision for the Saints of Britain.

    Oh well. I actually enjoy it and find it icnreadibly elevating when the services are actually offered and it all falls together as an act of worship.

  2. Michael,

    I don't know you at all, but if you're worried about your spiritual state, then I must truly be worried about mine. My post was intended to be reflective of myself and not towards anyone else within the Church since I have NO business saying what others' spiritual state is or should be.