Dear Friends,

We have concluded our annual celebration of Christmas and its accompanying feasts and now we return to what is known liturgically as ordinary time. The word “ordinary” does not mean ho-hum, so-so, or uneventful. Rather it is used to denote those Sundays of the Church year, some thirty-four in all which are number ordinally, such as that which we celebrate this weekend, the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. The weeks of Ordinary Time have us, in the reading of the Gospels, accompany Jesus in his ministry from its beginnings in Galilee immediately following his baptism by John, and then through Judea, ending just before he enters in triumph into Jerusalem to accomplish the wonder of our salvation through his death and resurrection.

In these weeks of Ordinary Time, we are invited to walk along with Jesus, to see what he does, and to hear what he says by way of teaching. It is an ongoing invitation to discipleship, which essentially is an invitation to get to know Jesus better and better, to model our lives on his own example and teaching, and in turn to become better signs of his presence and activity in the world of our day. As we work our way through these weeks of Ordinary Time, a salutary spiritual discipline we can all undertake is to read the Gospel passage of each day and to spend some time in quiet prayer and reflection, inviting the Lord to come into our hearts through his word and to help us conform ourselves to him by putting his word into practice concretely in our own ordinary daily lives. All we have to do is to take the time, open the door, and let the Lord in, and then watch what can happen. You can be sure that if we do that, our experiences during these weeks may well be anything but ordinary.

Next Sunday, February 3, liturgically is the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, but also traditionally the memorial of St. Blase, who is invoked as the protector against diseases of the throat. At all Masses next weekend, there will be a general blessing of throats over the whole assembly that will take the place of the ordinary blessing that concludes the Mass. According to the regulations of the Church, such a blessing can now be given and it is no longer absolutely required to give the blessing individually with crossed candles.

Have a good week!