James Martin, S.J.: Keep calm and pray on

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How does it feel now that we’ve finished the Christmas season and have returned to Ordinary Time? And if you didn’t know, we’re in the Second Week of Ordinary Time. There might be a bit of sadness, since the beautiful anticipation of Advent, the glory of Christmas and wonder of the Feasts of the Epiphany and the Baptism of Jesus are such rich times, liturgically and spiritually. And the Advent and Christmas seasons can be so exciting, with special Masses and liturgies, the beautiful daily readings, lessons and carols, as well as time spent with family and friends, and even some nice gifts. So there might be some letdown as you return to Ordinary Time. Yet for some people Christmas can be a hard time. It’s natural to feel a little sad that, as you age, Christmases aren’t quite as exciting as they were when you were younger. There are also the inevitable holiday stresses that go with anyone who spends time with their family. And some may feel even lonelier at Christmas. So for many people Ordinary Time can’t come quickly enough. 

Let me suggest one thing that we all might agree on. Ordinary Time offers us a measure of calm after the holidays—holidays that were either exciting and fun or stressful and sad. So perhaps this week you can thank God for the gift of calm, even when you pray. Because sometimes what God wants to offer you isn’t some great insight or moving memory or heartfelt desire, but something simpler: a feeling of calm and peace. A few years ago I complained to my spiritual director that not a whole lot was going on in my prayer. I was in a super busy period in my life. And he said, “Maybe God just wants to give you the gift of calm in the middle of your busyness.” Can you accept calm during your Ordinary Time?

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