Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Randy Sly

5/24/2013 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

Don't Let Ordinary Time Become Merely Ordinary

It seems that in society there has always been this predisposition to dumbing things down to accommodate lowered performance. We lessen our expectations rather than ramp up our determination. This seems to be a strong tendency in the culture of today. When things get tough we want to lower the bar. We even see this in the Church.


By Fr. Randy Sly

Catholic Online (

5/24/2013 (3 years ago)

Published in Year of Faith

Keywords: divorce, law, grace, Jesus, Ordinary Time, expectations, standards, faith

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Many years ago I was approached by a young man who was a part of our parish's youth group. He wanted to meet with me as he had some questions about his faith.

When we got together, the discussion covered a list of actions that he wanted to cover, asking if each of these were sins and whether he could keep doing them and still be in a state of grace. It didn't take long before I realized he wasn't looking at developing a deeper life of holiness. He was searching to find away from the Lord he could live and still not be in jeopardy.

In today's gospel we have a similar mindset in the Pharisee who approached Jesus with a question. While trying to catch our Lord in a technicality regarding the Law of Moses, his mindset indicated that any relationship with God is a matter of legal conformity not heart conversion.

The issue he was putting forth had to do with divorce, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" Can a husband legally issue a certificate of divorce for his wife?

Jesus' answer got to the heart of the problem - the difference between something being lawful and being a lower standard. He reminds the Pharisees that Moses issued this because of the hardness of heart in Israel. It was not a part of the early Mosaic Law but included in the subsequent laws outlined in Deuteronomy.

There were other areas where the same principle held true for Israel, involving war, interest on loans, sacrificed animals and the like. What a difference 40 years had made. In order to keep Israel moving forward, modifications were made.

In his response, Jesus called the Pharisee back to the original design, in this case, for marriage.

From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
So they are no longer two but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together,
no human being must separate.

It seems that in society there has always been this predisposition to dumbing things down to accommodate lowered performance. We lessen our expectations rather than ramp up our determination.

This seems to be a strong tendency in the culture of today. When things get tough we want to lower the bar. We even see this in the Church. Whether we're talking about life, contraception, theology or ecclesiology, people are banding together in ad hoc groups to call for inferior performance in faith and practice as the new norm.

This is a pattern we have to watch carefully. A friend of mine would put it, "while some people wanted to put everything on sale, I want to mark up the merchandise."

We have just re-entered Ordinary Time (or "Tempus Annum") on the liturgical calendar. Some might even interpret this as the season of lowered expectations, where we can let off on our disciplines of abstinence, fasting and devotional disciplines since we have no major observances for which we are preparing.

Thus, Ordinary Time, many believe, is when we can slip into neutral and take a rest from religion. Nothing can be farther from the truth! In fact, according to the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, this season is "devoted to the mystery of Christ in all its aspects."

To be honest, this is why I love Ordinary Time! This is an all-inclusive time, embracing every facet of the faith together. I love what it really can signify, that an omnipotent and omnipresent God can be - and is - involved in the ordinariness of life. The ordinary becomes extraordinary. Even the liturgical color, green, reminds us that this is our season of growth in faith and holiness.

Ordinary time is a great opportunity to fasten down those disciplines and devotions that we initiated during Lent and hopefully perpetuated in Easter. Now we can set them in place as a permanent part of our spirituality.

On Trinity Sunday in 2010, our Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, made the following observation in his Angelus address. He state that Ordinary Time "does not mean that the commitment of Christians must diminish; quite the contrary, having entered divine life through the Sacraments, we are now called to remain open to the action of Grace in order to grow in love towards God and neighbour."

In these intervening months between now and Advent, here are seven ways you can cooperate with the Lord's grace at work in you.

1.    Build daily resolve in your prayer life. Vacations, kids' sports, summer activities can all distract us from our regular disciplines of prayer. Don't allow your focus to be shifted. As Fr. Larry Richards likes to tell those who attend his missions regarding his daily prayer and Scripture study, "No Bible no breakfast, no Bible no Bed." Those two times are set in stone amidst a very busy schedule.

2.    Take time for the Word of God. Don't let a day go without reading your Bible. There are many daily reading plans you can find. You can also find the readings through such resources as Christian Prayer, Liturgy of the Hours, Magnificat and many others.

3.    Read something good for your soul. Whether it's a book about a saint, one of the great classics of Catholic literature or a more recent publication, you can never run out of great books the will fill your mind with truth while touching your heart.

4.    Make this a Season of Good Deeds.
As an individual, with friends or with family, Ordinary Time is a wonderful opportunity for doing something for someone else. When I was a teenager, the parents of one of my friends ran a nursing home. One day his mom said to me, "It is so sad. Around Christmas so many people want to come and cheer up the residents. Then no one comes back the other eleven months of the year."

5.    Don't miss Mass! As a priest, I hear so many people talk about the fact that they missed Mass while on vacation, because of sports or just because the weekend gets busy. Sunday is not a Holy Day of Obligation because the Church wants to mess with you. Holy Mother Church wants us to remember that the worship of Almighty God is the highest and best use of our time. Mass is also where we receive his grace - our bread for the journey. Through and other sites you can't miss finding a Mass!

6.    Pray the Rosary, going beyond the beads. We all know the "Hail Mary" and most of us can recite the mysteries, but we can often fail to focus while we pray. The Rosary involves meditating on the mysteries after each is announced, not merely praying through the beads. Saint Louis de Montfort said, "Recite your Rosary with faith, with humility, with confidence, and with perseverance."

7.    Make a good confession. Advent and Lent are two seasons where confession is emphasized. As we all know, monthly confession is a good thing to practice and Ordinary Time should not be a time to let down on your schedule. If you can't make it to one of the published times, call your priest and set up a time to meet.

Is it lawful or just a lower standard? During Ordinary Time your are basically on your own. The major celebrations are over until Advent. The Church is not adding more Masses, confession times or other events. It's up to you.

Now is not the time to lower your standards of spiritual performance and this is not a vacation from holiness. This is a great time for grace to work and our hearts, again, to be filled with his love.

Father Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and a priest with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter ( established by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, through the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. He is currently the chaplain of the St. John Fisher Ordinariate Community, a priest in residence at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church and Director of Pro-Life Activities for the Ordinariate. He is a popular speaker for parishes, apostolates and organizations.


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'

Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for DECEMBER 2016
End to Child-Soldiers: That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.
Evangelization: Europe: That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.


More Year of Faith

The Happy Priest on the Baptism of the Lord and our own Baptism Watch

Image of

By Fr. James Farfaglia

The consideration of Jesus' baptism, gives us an opportunity to remember our own baptism.  If you do not know the date of your own baptism, it is a good idea to go through your personal files and find out when it occurred.  CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic ... continue reading

Regret of Judas or Repentance of Peter?

Image of

By Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT

I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. HYTHE, KENT, UK (Catholic Online) - I didn't steal any cookies mommy! says a little boy whose mother asked him if he was hungry, wiping the ... continue reading

Pentecost: St Cyril of Jerusalem on The Living Water of the Holy Spirit Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online

The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one man's self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches ... continue reading

The Wedding Invitation of Jesus: We are Called to Live the Nuptial Mystery Watch

Image of There will be no giving or taking in marriage in the kingdom to come because the very purpose and meaning of marriage itself will be fulfilled. (See, e.g. Mk. 12:18-27) We will be living in the fullness of the Communion of Love with the Trinity. The symbol will give way to the eternal reality, the Sacrament will be fulfilled in the fullness of communion. All of human love will be completed in the Love which lasts forever.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

It is not accidental that the Bible, from beginning to the end, uses marriage as a metaphor and a symbol to reveal the plan of God for the whole human race.  Marriage was God's plan from the beginning as we see in the first book of Genesis. Throughout the Old ... continue reading

The Sower. The Seed. The Field. Understanding the Christian Mission Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

"A sower went out to sow. And, as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for ... continue reading

Reflection on the Catholic Catechism: Understanding the Bible Watch

Image of

By Michael Terheyden

How we interpret the Bible is of immense importance! It directly affects what we believe about Christ, the Church, and our faith, but it is also related to many of the grave problems in our society and the world. Yet, despite the gravity of this situation, we have good ... continue reading

Christ the King, the Year of Faith and the Catholic Counterculture Watch

Image of On this Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Year of Faith inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI comes to a ceremonial end. However, in reality, it cannot and will not end, because Jesus Christ is King! The Year of Faith was only the beginning for those who choose to live the Life of Faith.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It is one of many opportunities the Catholic Church year offers to each one of us to consider the creature called time, receive it as a gift, and begin to really live our lives differently.  This is one of ... continue reading

The Bones of Peter, the Successor of Peter: Close of the Year of Faith Watch

Image of The bones of St. Peter the Apostle

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On the Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Sunday which marks both the end of the Church Year and the end of the Year of Faith, inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis greeted thousands of the faithful and presided over Holy Mass and the ... continue reading

Fr Randy Sly on Becoming a House of Prayer Watch

Image of Jesus drives the money changers from the temple. 

With hearts clear and focused on our Lord, we can follow the advice of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Everything starts with prayer. Love to pray--feel the need to pray often during the day and take the trouble to pray. If you want to pray better, you must pray more. The more you pray, the easier it becomes. Perfect prayer does not consist of many words but in the fervor of the desire which raises the heart to Jesus. (Fr. Randy Sly)

By Father Randy Sly

Becoming a House of Prayer is the best discipline we can take on. St. Ephraem of Syria states that Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy ... continue reading

Jesus Weeps and Offers the Path to Peace Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

If this day you only knew what makes for peace- but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your ... continue reading

All Year of Faith News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 9:15, 24-28
15 This makes him the mediator of a new covenant, so that, now that a ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm] Sing a new song to Yahweh, for he has performed wonders, his ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 3:22-30
22 The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying, 'Beelzebul ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 23rd, 2017 Image

St. Ildephonsus
January 23: St. Ildephonsus is highly regarded in Spain and ... Read More