This past Sunday, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, marked the close of the Christmas season returning us to Ordinary Time. I don’t know about you, but I find something reassuring about getting back to ordinary time. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays and the holy days, but it’s the ordinary that marks their uniqueness because without one, we wouldn’t have the other.
Like many across the country, I was sick with the flu last week. I fought it for days but succumbed on Wednesday night and finally crawled out of bed on Saturday. Yesterday was the first day I actually felt like myself again – not all there, but close enough to be vertical and functioning for most of the day. Almost back to normal. Almost back to ordinary.
That got me thinking…
The flu or another temporary illness or injury is just that – temporary. We miss work, don’t cook a few meals, and fall behind in our responsibilities. My house was a mess, and the family tired of leftovers; meetings had to be moved, but eventually things returned to normal.
As I was taking a much-needed shower on Saturday morning, I thought about my friend Maggie who has battled cancer for years. A long time ago we sang together in a music ministry; we loved each others kids; she took good care of herself and was always vibrant and full of life, and she loved the Blessed Mother. I saw her a couple of months ago at church when she made a rare public outing. I almost didn’t recognize her, a frail shadow of herself. I think now of my uncle who passed away last spring after years of suffering – a brain tumor, esophageal cancer, then after recovering from both of those, chronic lung problems due to a fall at work. The last time I saw him, the night before he died, he was a frail shadow of himself. Both of these beautiful people must have longed for ordinary time – in the fullest sense of the word.
I’d like to ask you to make a special devotion during this season of Ordinary Time to pray for the chronically ill. Often sick at home, their presence eludes our sight, making it easy for us to forget them. Let’s not forget them. Pray for all – those you know and those you don’t. Make it a point to visit someone who is at home or in the hospital or in a nursing home. If they can’t receive visitors, call or write them a card, enlist your children or your CCD students to do the same. Suffering with on-going sickness can be a very lonely place. Bring light into the darkness of those who suffer with your corporal and spiritual works of mercy – visiting the sick and comforting the afflicted.
Finally, every time you see or hear the word “ordinary” would you join me in bowing your head to say a brief prayer that the Lord to pour out his mercy and healing on those who suffer.
Mary, Mother of Mercy, pray for us! Anne
Prayer for the Chronically Ill
rock of strength for those who trust in You;
comforter of those who call on you.
Hear the cry of those who suffer
from constant sickness or weakness,
and embrace them in your loving arms.
As you have united them to the suffering of Christ
in the waters of baptism,
be their companion on the way of the cross,
give them peace,
and strengthen them with the vision of your kingdom.
We make this prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord.