01-12-2023Reflections and Resources

We are now between the liturgical seasons of Christmas and Lent, celebrating the season of Ordinary Time. (The Christmas season ended on January 9 with the Baptism of the Lord, and Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 22.) The season of Ordinary Time gets its name from the fact that the Sundays are numbered (ordinal); the name does not imply that the season is “run-of-the-mill” or just plain and “blah”. These few weeks, and the weeks of Ordinary Time that return after the Easter Season is complete, give us the opportunity to learn about discipleship and experience Jesus’ life and teachings.

During these few weeks of Ordinary Time, we remember many saints who have provided us with various models of discipleship. Among them are St. Agnes (January 21), St. Francis de Sales (January 24), St. Thomas Aquinas (January 28) and St. Scholastica (February 10). We also celebrate the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25) and the Presentation of Jesus in the temple (February 2). You can learn more about the saints at the Franciscan Media site, Saint-of-the-Day, bit.ly/saintoftheday.

Another “event” that occurs during this time period is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, January 18-25. This week of prayer, previously called the Church Unity Octave, was first celebrated in 1908 in Garrison, New York after being developed by Servant of God, Fr. Paul Wattson, SA (Society of Atonement). The theme this year is “Do Good; Seek Justice” (Isaiah 1:17). The Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute’s website states that “The entire scriptural passage for the theme is Isaiah 1:12-18, lamenting a lack of justice among the People of God. Yet, it also promises redemption by encouraging acts of justice.” Information and resources concerning the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity can be found at bit.ly/2023ChristianUnity.

The month of February hosts the Church's celebration of World Marriage Day (February 12). The US Catholic bishops, through its 2007 National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage, created a website (www.foryourmarriage.org) which offers information and resources to support couples, dating, engaged and married.

If you are interested in social justice, here’s information about two national Catholic organizations that put our Catholic teachings into action. Catholic Relief Services (www.crs.org) was founded in 1943 by the Catholic bishops of the U.S. to assist poor and disadvantaged people outside the country. In collaboration with the US Bishops’ Conference, CRS has developed a wonderful series of teaching videos on the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching. You can search for the videos on the CRS website. Catholic Extension, founded in 1905 by Fr. Francis Kelley, is the largest supporter of Catholic missionary work in the U.S. and its territories. You can read more about Catholic Extension’s activities on its website, www.catholicextension.org.