‘ORDINARY’ TIME: THE NEW NORMAL?

‘ORDINARY’ TIME: THE NEW NORMAL?

We are all now, depending on which liturgical calendar you, as they say, ‘follow’                  (… that’s a changed term too, just like ‘gay’, ‘friend’, ‘like’, and ‘straight’ or indeed ‘normal’).

Anyway where was I? Oh yes in Ordinary Time aka Sundays after Trinity. Both strike me as fairly fatuous labels. Ordinary time is an insult to the majority of the year. “What’s wrong with us? I know we are not Easter but show a little respect.” Being After anything is surely anti-climactic or even passé. And why not After Pentecost anyway? At least that is a feast one vaguely understands. After Trinity is the equivalent of ‘after Pythagoras’ Triangle’ or after that theory which explains what happens if we step into a black hole and make time go backwards – or is it forwards?

Answers on a postcard please.

Someone sends me quotations from here and there – from a page-a-day calendar? holy fridge magnets? Profound and wide reading? Some are very good. This was one of them where the line ‘Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say rejoice!’ sprang into my mind with a Proustian poignancy. It’s the ‘alway’ wot done it.

We used to sing this verse set to music by Purcell at school – I think with organ, mournful trumpets and kettle drum accompaniment. Now, there is nothing like a kettle drum (or a dame, depending on your inclinations). But the main thing is the ‘alway’ rejoicing bit. (The ‘S’ has been banned, like so much, until Christma** when we will all ki** together again under the mi*tletoe).

One of the side effects of the virus – besides losing one sense of taste … now that really is a terrible thing. Fr Simon lost it once he tells me. Just think – anchovies on toast become cardboard. Kippers, cotton wool. Gin and tonic, tap.  Perhaps this is what hell will be like? “Another gin, Father?” And then someone hands you a sterile, odourless liquid. “Ice and lemon?”

Where was I? Oh yes one of the side effects of the virus is the universal gloom. The general tendency to think about, talk about, obsess about death and all things inescapably dreadful. Entirely understandable in one sense of course. Covid is grim and far from over. On the other hand I am, as I write, still alive (check pulse if I can find it. Yes that is correct. I am alive). I miss going to church madly, or badly – though neither of which words sound quite right, as I am not half as mad, bad and dangerous to know as I would like to have been.

Nonetheless (unless asymptomatic) I do not have cancer, polio, TB or even malaria … for most people outside our high-income world, death is from causes such as infectious disease, malnutrition, nutritional deficiencies, neonatal and maternal deaths. In Kenya, for example, the leading cause of death remains diarrheal diseases. In South Africa and Botswana, the leading cause of death is HIV/AIDS.

And I have been moaning about staying indoors with many good books, the internet, and the many marvels of the BBC, Radio 3 or 4. “I’m sorry I’ll read that again”….You need to rejoice in the Lord, alway mate. Gedda life! Or rather get a little bit of perspective wile still remaining safe, cautious and responsible.

Rejoice that the tiny white flowers have appeared again on the chilli bush. Rejoice that there are birds coming into our garden. Rejoice that the sea still laps the shore. I am sure of this although I don’t see it, my visits having lapsed…

Where was I? Oh yes, these Sundays after Pythagoras: rejoicing that no day is ordinary with the Lord. Alway, and every which way I rejoice. Because I am alive. And every day is a gay day (or could once be so called but no longer).

It’s a funny old world. Not ha-ha but infinitely peculiar, infinitely variable, infinitely full of energy and possibilities: of new life, new hope, new challenges and opportunities …

Meanwhile here is the Purcell anthem (sadly, no kettledrums: “so sad”, “so cheap”).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFJ8uxRkeA4

With every blessing and my prayers,

Fr Peter
Assistant Priest, Pro-Cathedral of S. Paul and S. George

2020

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