How To Grow Spiritually in Ordinary Time
This week we are celebrating our first “regular” Ordinary Time (OT) Sunday in a long line after a long line of special celebrations: Easter, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi and even this past Friday Sacred Heart.
OT is the time for spiritual growth after getting fed so many spiritual goodies through our special celebrations; plus the Church is heading somewhere at the end of it. How might we take better advantage of this time?
I offered a mediation through one of my BLACKATHOLIC Fervorinos videos back in 2021 to show how exactly we can through the example of our liturgical calendar. It’s still pretty timely. Here’s that meditation along with the link to the video.
“It’s Time to Start Growing!”
The thought of this fervorino is really the fruit of some ideas I’ve been having for years whenever I thought about how [during] the past few weeks, the past few Sundays, we’ve been celebrating a lot of solemnities that came after Easter, which was the solemnity of all solemnities. Then that led into Pentecost. But just because we celebrated Easter and Pentecost, God was not done with us yet in regards to the liturgical calendar. He, through the Church, gave us more solemnities that seemed to happen one week after the other.
So you had Pentecost after Easter. Then you had Most Holy Trinity the next Sunday. And then for most of us, at least in the United States, we had the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. Then after that, though it didn’t take place on a Sunday, yesterday was the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. And then after all of that we have, this upcoming Sunday, the first proper Sunday of Ordinary Time even though we’ve already been in Ordinary Time since after Pentecost. But even though we have had days of Ordinary Time, weeks of Ordinary Time, the Sundays have been preempted by these big solemnities of the Most Holy Trinity, Corpus Christi. And then even before we get to the proper Sunday of Ordinary Time we have the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. And I’ve always kind of thought there’s something there. There’s something of significance there, and it relates to the season of Ordinary Time, which is a season for growth and new life. That’s why the color of Ordinary Time is green to help signify those themes, those motifs of growth and new life.
There’s a point I want to make with all this, but before that I want to draw you to an analogy that I think might be helpful because a lot of us may have done this before, and it has to do with growing a home garden. And a lot of us maybe have tried to grow a home garden in the backyard in February and March. And we start to pull up weeds and everything. We pick a spot, and then we start pulling up weeds. We start tearing out what’s already there, [even] the kind of good things that are growing there maybe (“good” in terms of ontological goodness, at least), pulling away things, weeds and other things [and] clearing the land and tilling the land. We bring in some nice soil, some nice fertilizer, to pack the soil down. After we’ve done everything with that, cleared the land and made it fertile and make it a proper place to grow something, then we plant the seeds. And then once we’ve planted those seeds we water those seeds, and then we come back and we water it some more. And that water gives the seeds the ability to grow. We come back and start watering and it gives the ability for those seeds to grow into the plants and that will give us the fruit and the produce that we will get at a later time, but then we’re not done yet.
Then we go to Home Depot and pick up some Miracle Grow, or whatever type of those products that are purported to help these plants grow better than they would have if they didn’t have these products like Miracle Grow, this “plant food” as they call it, which contains a bunch of nutrients and other things that plants like so that it helps them to grow even more. Then, after we’ve done all that, we’ve added the nutrients [and] we’ve added the water. In the spring, in the late spring, and going into the summer the plants grow, and they continue to grow for months on end. It takes us to late summer and going into fall (September, October, November), and then we harvest those plants up and reap the produce, reap the work that we’ve done at the beginning of the growing season at the earlier part of the year.
So, I think that’s a good analogy for the point I want to draw, and I think that this analogy is hidden within the liturgical calendar itself, of course, because there’s long been in the Christian tradition this analogy of planting and growing and sowing and reaping. We get that directly from Jesus Himself in the Gospel, but the liturgical calendar reflects that as well. So, after we’ve been watered with the waters of baptism and Easter and we receive the nutrients of the solemnities, we grow in Ordinary Time to produce the fruit that will be harvested (at least metaphorically speaking) at the end of the liturgical calendar where we have the last Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Solemnity of Christ the King, which is the celebration of Christ as Lord of the universe and how Christ will come back to judge the living and the dead. And He will do what He says he would in the Gospel of Matthew. He will send out His angels. The Son of Man will send out His angels and they will act as the reapers that will gather up the good fruit and gather up the bad fruit. [They will] gather the good fruit, which will receive reward from Him. The good fruit will be perfect for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and the unprofitable fruit will be gathered up with the weeds and dealt with as appropriately.
So, all of that, I think, holds a big lesson once we consider these solemnities that have followed after Easter. I’ve already alluded to the great significance of that point and how at the beginning, when it comes to the liturgical calendar, it takes us back to Lent when we strip away our souls. We go to our spiritual backyards, strip away everything and leave a barren ground but a barren ground that’s prepared to bear fruit at a later time. We plant the seeds – the various spiritual seeds of our prayers, our almsgiving, our fasting, and seeds of self-denial. Once we’ve done that we’ve planted [and] then comes the water, and that water, for us, is the waters of baptism, the life-giving waters of baptism that came at Easter when Christ has come and He’s giving us His life-giving water. And we come back and He waters those plants, He floods the ground with His life-giving water again for weeks on end. And He works hard to give us that water we need so that we can bear fruit. And He does it for seven straight weeks, but he’s not through with that. He’s not through at that point.
Then He goes to Home Depot, the “Home Depot” in the sky, He comes back and gives us that “Miracle Grow”, those nutrients that help us grow, and those nutrients are the solemnities that I’ve been talking about: Pentecost, Most Holy Trinity, Corpus Christi, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. These are the nutrients that God gives us. He enriches us, enriches our souls to help us grow in Ordinary Time so that we can bear fruit for Him when he comes again not only at the end of our lives but at the end of all time. And that’s reflected in the Solemnity of Christ the King. So, He’s given us these great nutrients of our faith. These are treasures of our faith that help us grow and bear fruit, which is the result of our contemplation of the mysteries of the faith that He gives us through the Church’s liturgical calendar.
As we go into Ordinary Time and as we celebrate these solemnities (and we’ve already celebrated these solemnities) I bring these things into mind so that these solemnities don’t go to waste, that “Miracle Grow” doesn’t go to waste. And that it doesn’t just pass us by. But the Church gives us these solemnities right after the solemnity of solemnities for a reason, and I think it is to help us grow in Ordinary Time.
One of the ways, at least, that we can grow in Ordinary Time is by allowing our lives to reflect the mysteries that we have celebrated, the mysteries in these solemnities that we have celebrated, these nutrients. And we feast upon these nutrients to help us grow in Ordinary Time to bear fruit so that when Christ comes as King and Lord of creation and the harvest we have something to give Him because, Christ, He’s coming at the end of time. He’s coming in our lives but also at the end of time to collect, to get collect the fruit that He has sewed in the ground, to reap the harvest that He has planted.
So, how do we do that? How do we use these solemnities to help us to grow in Ordinary Time on a practical level? I have a couple of suggestions, and I [will] go one by one.
So, we start with Pentecost. After we’ve been watered with the life-giving waters of Christ in baptism He gives us Pentecost to contemplate the Holy Spirit and has fire to enrich the ground, the spiritual ground of our souls, so that we can bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We can develop and bear those fruits of the Holy Spirit by doing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Those works of mercy will help grow those fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Then He gives us the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. We can contemplate the union of the Persons of the Trinity to help grow in more perfect union with the members of the Mystical Body of Christ in heaven, in purgatory, and on earth. We grow and strengthen those bonds. We strengthen the bonds of those in heaven, the Church Triumphant, by praying to the souls in heaven, the saints in heaven, and by this relationship of intercession we develop that relationship with them and we get to know them. And we ask them to pray for us. Then we strengthen our bonds with the souls of purgatory by praying for them and offer up spiritual works for them so that they can reach the final goal of heaven. Then once they get to heaven then they pray for us, and that’s the realization of that relationship that we’ve built with them. So, we’ve got to have a relationship with the souls of purgatory as well. Then, obviously, when it comes to the souls down here on earth we strengthen our relationship with each other by praying for one another and serving one another.
Then we go into the feast of Corpus Christi. We celebrate how Christ gives us His body and blood in the Eucharist. He comes to us body and blood. He comes into the houses of our souls, and to make a dwelling place. So, it’s best for us to make our houses better dwelling places for His body and blood, for His presence. We do that by reading the Bible, by taking in good spiritual materials (spiritual reading, spiritual videos and recordings), and reading the catechism to learn deeper about our faith so that we can make our houses better spiritual places for Christ to dwell with us in His body and blood.
And then, lastly, we come to the Sacred Heart, the feast of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, which we celebrated yesterday. And that Christ, in replacement for our broken and stony hearts, He offers us His Heart of flesh. So that we can take and have His Heart in us and love not with the love of our stony hearts but love with His love, his love that comes from His true Heart of flesh. So, once we take on Christ’s heart and we love with the love of Christ then we can properly love other people and check our own motivations. When we love [and] when we do things good for other people, for those we know and those we don’t know, having the heart of Christ allows us to check our motivations so that we’re not doing good things for people out of self-love and self-will but do things that will actually benefit our brothers and sister in the name of Christ for the glory of God in the Holy Spirit.
And so I think these practical ways help reflect [upon] the mysteries that we have celebrated in these solemnities so that we don’t allow them to go to waste [and] we don’t allow them to pass us by. But we allow these things to help us grow in this “time to start growing”, which is the season of Ordinary Time so that Christ can use the liturgical calendar of the Church to help make us grow in the season for growth that is Ordinary Time.
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