I always think of the opening line to Snoopy's first novel in the old "Peanuts"…
Let’s reexamine what ordinary should look like
At the beginning of the year, I made a New Year’s resolution to pray the Rosary every day.
Most nights, I’d settle into bed and pray quietly with my wife. Or I’d pray aloud scrunched into the bed of a 4-year-old who has a severe inability to go to sleep by herself. She’d pray along with me until she drifted off.
There were times, of course, where I’d stay up too late — working, mostly, or watching TV, or simply enjoying the rare moments of peace and quiet that can only be appreciated by parents whose children are finally sound asleep. On those nights, I’d climb into bed, grab my rosary and start to pray before eventually catching myself mumbling through the prayers, half asleep. I could hear my wife telling me, once again, “Your guardian angel will finish it for you.”
I’m sure there are readers who have prayed the Rosary daily for years without ever missing a day. God bless their faith, discipline and dedication. I made it through much of May. But then my wife (a teacher) and kids started summer vacation, my routine was thrown off, and my prayer life took a tumble.
It wasn’t the only thing. As I’d written about previously, my family was also listening daily to the “Bible in a Year” podcast with Father Mike Schmitz. That, too, fizzled around the same time. So did our weekly Saturday night appointment at adoration. We cruised through the Christmas season, through a small chunk of Ordinary Time, through Lent and through much of the Easter season. It’s probably no coincidence that we got bogged down at the beginning of the monthslong stretch of Ordinary Time. While I don’t think we’re alone in this assessment, ordinary, for us, too often means lazy.
Working these wonderful faith practices into our family routine was truly life-giving. But it’s easier to shut your eyes and fall asleep than it is to take those extra 20 minutes to pray the Rosary. It’s easier to get the kids to pile onto the couch to watch another episode of whatever’s on TV than it is to listen to 25 minutes of Scripture. And it’s certainly easier to get into your pajamas and stay in on a Saturday night than it is to pack up and head to the adoration chapel.
At no point did we make a conscious decision to stop any of these things altogether. No, we simply made little, daily choices to turn our attention away from the Lord. We chose our own comfort over God, our own entertainment over small sacrifices for the one who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Seeing these activities fall away so easily has been deflating, like the air being let out of an untied balloon — our faith lives flying haphazardly around the room with no direction at all.
A spiritual fog seems to have settled over the house — an apathy or malaise that has been difficult to shake. We’re still going to Mass, of course, but even that’s distracted almost weekly by an active and uncooperative 2-year-old. And so we could use something to set our souls on fire again, to point us back in the right direction and remind us why we were praying the Rosary and listening to Scripture every day in the first place, why we were praying before the Blessed Sacrament for an hour every week.
The feast of Christ the King is coming, setting the stage for a new liturgical year, which will begin on the First Sunday of Advent. As Ordinary Time in the life of the Church comes to an end, the change in seasons offers an opportunity for my family — and for yours, if you need it — to reexamine what ordinary should look like.
Pray that the Holy Spirit continues to provide us with the fortitude and piety that we need to renew our family’s spiritual life. Pray that the fog lifts and that we will no longer mumble our prayers half asleep, but that we will be fully awake and ready to welcome Christ the King.
Thoughts? Email email@example.com.
Scott Warden is managing editor of Our Sunday Visitor.