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Time For a Few Small Repairs

Now that Trinity Sunday has passed, we are into that long sweep of what in liturgical terms is called “Ordinary Time”. This stretch of time – which will last till mid-November – is the longest season in the church year. Ordinary time is what we call the weeks that are not included in the major seasons of feasting or fasting in the church calendar, such as Advent, Lent and Easter.
In some circles this span of months is referred to as “the green growing season” because the liturgical colour of the season is green, but also because it invites us to deepen our roots, to grow.
In his poem “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”, Wendell Berry calls his readers to “practise resurrection”. That’s a good way to think of this stretch of ordinary time. During the Easter season we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, and in this next season we learn to “practise resurrection” in our everyday lives. We seek out those things which, once repaired, bring renewal.
And, God knows, we find that there is much that needs mending – not only in the world but also in our own very personal lives. It’s difficult at present not to feel overwhelmed by the state of the world and its problems. So many “Big things” certainly need repairing. Yet, for most of us in our limited spheres, we should also not neglect the small practices of repair. These practices, though small, are profoundly significant. They are the tiny threads that weave a society when, as Dorothy Day said, it is easier for people to be good.
Ordinary time vestments

Photo by Grant Whitty on Unsplash

Here are a few suggestions for practising repair:
  1. Get outside. The benefits of the great outdoors are so great that fresh air almost seems like a magical elixir. It also helps with anxiety. Spending time in the natural world humanises us in deeply necessary ways.
  2. Read books. In order to understand life and ourselves we have to invest in someones’s work and follow their argument or story to its end. As the late Joan Didion put it: we tell ourselves stories in order to live.
  3. Join a peace movement like Pax Christi and find out how, along with others, you can better understand the world and how, too, in so many small ways you can help make a difference.
  4. Finally, pray. Prayer is crucially important. Praying is what detaches us us and sets us free from the prevailing assumptions and loyalties that keep us from becoming the sort of people Jesus would have us be. So pray more to become more Christlike in your living.
Now, start adding to the list and try to make something extraordinary out of this season of “Ordinary Time”.
Fr. Gerry McFlynn

Author Fr. Gerry McFlynn

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