Lent provides a special opportunity to reflect on the practice of our faith, drawing upon our journey through Ordinary Time as we look in hope to the season of Eastertide.
Ordinary Time in the life of the Church is far from unimportant, or uninteresting as its name might suggest. The Latin word “ordinālis” refers to numbers in a series and stems from the word for “order”. It turns out Ordinary Time represents the ordered life of the Church, neither in feasting nor in penance, but watchfulness and expectation. We are watchful for encounters with Jesus and expectant of the transformation He brings: not ‘ordinary’ at all!
Family life is not dissimilar. The day to day ‘ordinary’ stuff of marriage, relationships and parenting take up most of our time and attention and yet can seem unimportant compared to what appear to be more significant or poignant moments. The thrill of a wedding day, the joy of a new-born child, the sadness of a funeral. Everything else just seems ‘ordinary’ in comparison – mundane, domestic and sometimes downright disappointing! Marriage and family life can be equally misunderstood. It’s easy to miss the sacred in the messy, mundane life of family relationships, yet that is where we often find glimpses of divine love, where we encounter Christ. That should come as no surprise given Jesus spent most of his life sharing our existence, experiencing the joys and struggles of being human, in a family, in ‘ordinary’ time. The ‘domestic Church’!
Our support for relationships is often found alongside couples struggling through that ‘ordinary’ time. Many may be struggling with the changing realities that a loving relationship commits to, yet courageously reaching out for help. Time and time again we witness the sacred: as ruptures are repaired, the most fractured of relationships hanging by a single thread are rewoven within the safety net of skilled support, understanding and acceptance.
There is now clear evidence that the quality of our relationships impacts on the physical and mental health of adults and their children, as well as on the stability of the communities in which they live. Attending to the “ordinary” stuff of our most intimate relationships matters. It’s where love is to be found. As Tolstoy reminds us “Where Love Is, There God Is Also”.
Mark Molden, Chief Executive