Time: Part 1 (A Spiritual Reflection)
I am currently reading George Weigel’s book Evangelical Catholicism. The book is divided into two major sections: The first part is a look into the history of the church, the reforms of Leo the XVI through the second Vatican Council. The second part covers the definition of “Evangelical Catholicism” and how it is needed to reform the Catholic Church in the 21st-century.
One idea that Weigel proposes in a reform of the liturgy involves the way that we look at time and the liturgical year’s calendar. Currently the liturgical year is divided into a number of liturgical “seasons,” Advent – Christmas – Lent – Easter and Ordinary Time. It is the use of the term, “Ordinary Time” to which Weigel takes exception. To quote the author:
Post modernity flattens and profanes time. The Sabbath becomes the “weekend,” Advent and Christmas become “the holidays,” Easter is the “Spring Festival.” Evangelical Catholicism, by contrast, lives in time in order to prepare people for the time beyond time (The Wedding Feast of the Lamb and the kingdom of God). Catholicism should be deliberately counter-cultural, embodying a distinct way of life that points beyond the flattened “now” of a world without transcendence to a horizon of a future of God.
The reform of the liturgical calendar could begin with the restoration of “Sundays after Epiphany,” “Sundays after Pentecost” and the suppression of “Ordinary Time.” There is nothing “ordinary” about the Sundays after Epiphany – the great solemnity of the Lord’s manifestation to the world and history. There is nothing “ordinary” about Pentecost – the birthday of the church and the beginning of the mission to the nations. Catholics who live in the “time of the church” and the time following these two great feasts will live a lifestyle that is not so “ordinary.”
So let us reflect on ourselves and how we approach time as followers of Christ. For example, I sometimes hear statements such as “You can give an hour to God each week” and complaints about a homily that may go longer than 10 or 15 minutes (provided it is well prepared and well delivered, of course) or why should a Mass go longer than 60 minutes. These reflect a culture and an attitude of “flattening and profaning” time and not living within a sense of transcendence. What is our approach towards carving out small minutes, hours, days within our week and giving God space to “break in” to our lives so that He may be able to “breakthrough” to our hearts? In this regard, I personally think the bishops decision to remove the “obligatory” aspect of certain feast days that bump up against Sunday and Saturday was ill advised. Certainly it is inconvenient to get to church on a weekday. Of course it is – it’s supposed to be inconvenient! When Jesus Christ “breaks into “your life, it’s always inconvenient. Why not celebrate this as a culture and as a people in a liturgical celebration?