Topic: Vacation

Br. Chris Brannan, O.P.'s picture

McKenzie Bridge 2012 Photos

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Here are some photos from our time at St. Benedict's Lodge in  McKenzie Bridge, OR, where the student brothers gather every August for our annual vacation. Some of these photos were taken at St. Benedict's itself, and others are from our various hikes or adventures in the beautiful outdoors in the surrounding area.

Br. Chris Brannan, O.P.'s picture

"Ordinary" Time and the Common Life

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Ordinary Time -- Green vestmentsOn Tuesday we began returning to St. Albert's after our two-week Christmas vacation. Like most of the students, I spent much of this vacation by being with family and catching up with friends. Coincidentally, we were away from the priory for most of Christmas season proper, and have now returned at the beginning of "Ordinary" time in the liturgical calendar — a change any Catholic who has attended mass since Tuesday could not fail to notice. But what is "Ordinary time" anyway, and why is it "Ordinary"?

As it turns out, what we call "Ordinary" time is the English name given to the Latin term tempus per annum—"Time through the year"—which applies to those weeks outside of the Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter seasons, and which are numbered sequentially (1st week, 2nd week, etc). "Ordinary", then, means "ordered" or "numbered", and not "normal" or "dull". We have begun the first "numbered" week of the liturgical year now that Advent and Christmas are officially over, and that is what is meant by the "first week in Ordinary time."

I suppose that it is fitting that the first week in Ordinary time—for us student brothers—marks the beginning of our next semester of formation. We are, in a sense, resuming to our "ordinary" life as religious by returning to our Dominican community and resuming our common life with the rest of the friars, a life in which our day is punctuated by prayer and meals together. We might say that it is now the first week of our "ordinary" schedule in which the different intervals of the day are "ordered" by the hours of prayer: Matins and Lauds in the morning, Rosary and Midday prayer at noon, Vespers and mass in the early evening, and finally Compline.

This schedule of communal prayer, after all, is central to the Dominican life and vocation: we are united as a community by our daily prayers together, a prayer which provides the context for our own personal prayer and which sustains our spiritual life, our studies, and our preaching ministry. To have each day punctuated by such common prayer is quite "ordinary" for a Dominican, and is one of my favorite aspects of the Dominican experience. We live, pray, and worship together as a community of friars, that we might be led to God in contemplation, that from this contemplation we might be inspired to the task of holy preaching for the salvation of souls.

As we begin "Ordinary" time, then, let us commit ourselves—in whatever state in life—to let our mornings and evenings be "ordered" by our daily prayer, that together we might center each day on Christ, so that what may otherwise appear merely "ordinary" might become "extraordinary" by His grace.