When you set a goal to eat healthily and turn to resources to help you do so, one theme you’ll see repeatedly is that the green smoothies and salads you reach for during the week don’t count for much if you then spend all weekend splurging on milkshakes and French fries. Weekends make up 28% of the year, and that number can easily make or break your healthy lifestyle and the results you see from it.
In a way, Advent and Lent are like our spiritual “weekends.” Not in a relaxation sense (because I don’t think anyone would call the weeks leading up to Christmas relaxing!), but in a sense that as significant as they are, they make up the minority of the year. These seasons are essential to our Faith lives in the same way that weekends are essential to our health and sanity. The meaningful traditions, extra activities and resources from our parishes, and constant reminders of the promises ahead make it a little easier to remember to pray, fast, serve, and worship. I look forward to these seasons eagerly. I know that, with some effort, they’ll be seasons of renewal and conversion in my heart.
Enter the Beauty of Ordinary Time
This year, May 21st marked the return to Ordinary Time in the church calendar, which, aside from a few special feast days, will last until the first Sunday of Advent, December 2nd.
Sounds far away, doesn’t it?
The USCCB has an enchanting description for Ordinary Time:
The Sundays and weeks of Ordinary Time… take us through the life of Christ. This is the time of conversion. This is living the life of Christ. Ordinary Time is a time for growth and maturation, a time in which the mystery of Christ is called to penetrate ever more deeply into history until all things are finally caught up in Christ.
This is the time for conversion? The seasons of beach vacations, road trips, burgers on the grill, sunburns, fireworks, back to school shopping, brand new schedules, and pumpkin spice lattes?
Yes. We are called to conversion daily—not just in seasons of spiritual highs—but in the everyday, the mundane, the busy…the ordinary.[Tweet “We are called to conversion in the everyday, the mundane, the busy…the ordinary. #BISblog //”]
Seeking Conversion During Ordinary Time
I know many of us begin Advent and Lent by reflecting on how we want to make that season particularly special and meaningful. As we lean in to Ordinary Time, let’s do the same. Here are a few ideas to take to prayer.
Receive the Sacraments more often.
Experts say it takes 21 days to form a habit, so Ordinary Time provides an abundance of time to create some new routines.
If you have a hard time making it to Mass every week, commit to attending every Sunday. If you faithfully meet your Sunday obligation, see if there’s a daily Mass you can attend once or twice a week (don’t forget to check the Mass times of other nearby churches, not just the parish you belong to, for something that may work best with your schedule).
Go to Confession every few months when you remember? Put it on the calendar once a month for the rest of the year and then stick to it. The more we receive the Sacraments, the more graces we receive to live our Faith. I think it’s safe to say we could all use a little more of that.[Tweet “The more we receive the Sacraments, the more graces we receive to live our Faith. #BISblog //”]
Read a little bit of a spiritual book each day.
I say “a little bit” intentionally—exactly what that means is up to you. But I firmly believe that little by little progress adds up.
This reading time could look like anything from studying Summa Theologica during your hour of morning prayer to keeping a copy of the Diary of St. Faustina in your glove compartment so you can read a section or two while sitting in the carpool line. There are books out there on practically anything you can think of regarding our Faith. Dedicate a few minutes of your day to increasing your knowledge of whatever topics intrigue you.
Check out a few lists in the Blessed is She archives to get you started:
Do a Marian consecration.
Pope St. John Paul II himself said, “[St. Louis de Montfort]’s teaching has had a profound influence on the Marian devotion of many of the faithful and on my own life.”
Our Blessed Mother’s sole desire is to bring us to her Son, so consecrating our lives and wills to hers is a deeply meaningful way to lead us closer to Jesus. Marian consecrations last 33 days, ending on Marian feast days (the next one coming up goes from June 13-July 16). St. Louis de Montfort’s Preparation for Total Consecration to Mary is the “original” and best-known consecration, while I also love Father Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory. Note: the former is incredible, but more time-intensive. So make sure you can carve out about 20-30 minutes per day before committing to it. The latter takes just 5-10 minutes.
You are encouraged to renew your consecration every year. So don’t be afraid to do what works for you in your current season of life. Change it up in the future as needed!
I was in my early twenties before I realized that fasting wasn’t “restricted” to Lent. On the contrary, denying myself in order to redirect my heart toward the Lord is something I desperately need throughout the year.
Consider choosing one day per month to fast. Or simply practice giving something up (dessert, technology, unnecessary spending, etc.) intentionally every once in awhile.
During Lent, I gave up social media and repeated, “For love of you, Jesus,” whenever I was tempted to check in online. It always made my sacrifice feel easier. I have every intention of carrying that practice into Ordinary Time when I make small fasts from time to time.
Pray the Rosary daily.
Pope Pius XI said:
If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.
By praying the Rosary daily, we join in a habit of countless saints who have gone before us. The graces that Mary pours out on those who pray the Rosary daily are second only to those we receive by attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Feel overwhelmed by the prospect of praying the whole Rosary every day? Start with just a decade per day, split the decades up throughout your day, or pray alongside a podcast or YouTube recording. Whatever you need to do to make this habit happen![Tweet “If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country…recite the Rosary. //”]
Join (or start) a group.
Think back on some of the most significant moments of your faith life. Do they involve retreats, mission trips, or Bible studies? Mine too. God uses our communities and our acts of showing up so powerfully!
Consider joining a Bible study, ministry team, or prayer group in your area and commit to attending faithfully. Nothing in your area fit your schedule or desires? Step out in faith and start something! Hosting a Blessed Brunch can be a wonderful way to connect with other women in your community.
Let’s not allow the fervor of Easter fade away as we walk through this upcoming season, sisters. Pray with me that the Holy Spirit will set our hearts on fire for the Lord and continue to fan that flame all throughout Ordinary Time.
I’d love to hear some of your hopes and plans for the season ahead in the comments below![Tweet “Seeking Conversion in the Beauty of Ordinary Time #BISblog //”]
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