At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time

At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time

The liturgical season of Ordinary Time runs for roughly twenty-nine weeks, from Pentecost Sunday in the spring until the first Sunday of Advent in late fall. It’s the longest season of the church year, with few significant events along the way, which gives it a kind of ordinariness that the other seasons lack. There are no narrative highpoints, no showy colors or costumes, not even a signature hymn or two. Even the lectionary readings (or the cycle of Scriptures read by many denominations for each week of the church calendar), toil through lesser-known stories with a kind of plodding predictability. If Advent, Lent, and Easter are the glitzy celebrities at the liturgical party, Ordinary Time is the plain auntie collecting dirty wine glasses afterward. We almost forget she’s there.

So to dress her up with some of the world’s most extraordinary works of fiction and poetry is ironic, to say the least! But if, as the church prescribes, the season of Ordinary Time is when we are to focus on the mystery of Christ in all its aspects (not merely on the mystery of Christ’s birth or resurrection, as in Advent and Easter), then this plain auntie just might surprise us. Seen in a slightly different light—say, emerging from the shadows into a moonlit garden—she might reveal something of the holy mystery that we hadn’t seen before.

Think of the readings in this anthology as the moonlit garden. They are an invitation to experience the long season of Ordinary Time in a new way. To that end, they have been organized thematically, in groups of three to six, for each of the twentynine weeks; and their themes range all over the breadth of human spiritual experience: from conviction to calling, quarreling to awakening, dark nights, redemption, and everything in between. The weeks are not in chronological order to match the lectionary, so you are free to jump around. However, they are arranged with attention to the weeks that precede and follow them, so you may wish to follow the order given, just to see what the Spirit might spark in your imagination.


Excerpted from Sarah Arthur's At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time

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