As I write this, I’m in western North Carolina for a short family visit before heading farther east to the Catholic Media Conference in nearby Charlotte (more on that next week).
Not only have I been blessed to spend a few days catching up with my parents, but both my brother and sister were able to take time out of their busy schedules and coordinate a visit home with mine.
Outside of major holidays, and sometimes not even then, this happens almost never. Typically when all five of us are together, it’s during the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving or Christmas, or with the presence of additional relatives or guests, or at a wedding or funeral or similar life event.
And while I wouldn’t trade the joy and excitement of the holidays or other special occasions for the world, there is something to be said for times of quiet together, too.
This weekend has been filled with those quiet moments. One-on-one conversations, loud laughs, ice cream runs, sports watching, music, games, Mass, walks, and of course lots of food. Regular, everyday moments with life’s usual suspects. Perfectly wonderful in its perfect normality.
I suppose, in the language of the Church, these moments would be called “Ordinary Time” — the liturgical season, of course, that we re-entered following Pentecost.
As we move more deeply into the summer months, the feasting of the Easter season is behind us.
With his ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit, the Lord has given us his great commission: to “go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19). We enter a new rhythm in the Church’s calendar year — one that is quieter and more placid than other times of the year, but no less significant.
These regular rhythms can be easy to take for granted — both personally and in the life of the Church. Where our quest for holiness is concerned, we might be tempted to put ourselves on cruise control until Advent.
But really there is no better time to slowly and methodically take steps to becoming more invested in Christ and his Church. Pope Francis, in his homily earlier this month, offered a way to do this, as he so often does — by following the “program” of the beatitudes in Matthew, Chapter 5.
If you ask yourself how to become a good Christian, he said, the beatitudes are where you can find Jesus’ answer.
“Few words, simple words, but practical for all,” Pope Francis said. “Because Christianity is a practical religion: it is not just to be imagined, it is to be practiced.”
The ordinary moments of life offer a perfect opportunity for fine-tuning and quality time, whether in our everyday relationships or with Christ and his Church. The beatitudes are a perfect place to start.