Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

O world invisible, we view thee!

Following on from yesterday's piece by fr Timothy Radcliffe, OP on 'Ordinary time', there is another article by Mitch Finley, an American writer who has been awarded the Catholic Press Award six times. In his book, 'The Joy of Being Catholic', he discusses 'The Joy of the Ordinary' as one of the joys of Catholicism. I present the following extract for your consideration... In the days ahead, I shall also look at the character of Liturgical time and why, in another sense, it can't be 'ordinary' because they are days lived in the light of Christ's redemption and share in His saving work. But first, Finley's reflections on the ordinary and being Catholic:

"What is the ordinary after all? The word 'ordinary' is related to the Latin 'ordo', which originally meant 'a row of threads in a loom'. The ordinary is a source of joy precisely because it is characterised by 'everydayness'. The ordinary is like a row of threads in a loom, a variety of colours, all in a row, all spaced evenly, nothing out of the... well, out of the ordinary. All the threads are where they belong, in a row, as the weaver works on the loom, weaving the threads into a garment, blanket, or rug, something beautiful and useful.

There is joy in the ordinary because it is so quiet and unassuming. In the ordinary there is nothing unusual, nothing extraordinarily good, but nothing extraordinarily bad either. It is just... the ordinary, all the threads of our lives where they belong. In this ordinariness Catholicism finds joy because this is where the Divine Mystery is most hidden and most present.

Because there is nothing unusual in the ordinary, we find it difficult to find God there. But for Catholicism this is what makes the ordinary so utterly sacred. For the Son of God graced the ordinary by taking it for his own. He became an ordinary human being, except that he was 'without sin' (Heb 4:15)...

Anything that is a part of childhood and growing up, the Son of God experienced for himself because it is ordinary, gloriously ordinary... Jesus lived the most ordinary of lives, evidently because after [the account of the finding in the Temple] we learn nothing more about him until the beginning of his public ministry at the age of thirty. In other words, the Son of God lived far longer in ordinary obscurity than he did in the public eye.

The ordinary is, therefore, nothing to look down upon. Nothing is holier than the ordinary. Because God created the ordinary, and because the Son of God became an ordinary human being in all things except sin, and because by his death and resurrection he redeemed the ordinary from its fallen condition, the everyday, is holy.

Here is an astonishing thing, an amazing thing, a thing to make you sit up and take notice. For Catholicism the ordinary is holy, and yet it remains so... ordinary. Perplexing! A puzzlement! We miss the holiness of the ordinary because the holy is so ordinary. Yes. We are surrounded by all things holy but because the holy is so ordinary we miss it most of the time. What are we to do?

How about words from a poem, 'In No Strange Land' by Catholic poet Francis Thompson (1859 - 1907): "O world invisible, we view thee."

The ordinary days of our lives are soaked with the divine presence and they bring us divine presents, day in, day out. But so rarely do we recognize what's happening, so earnestly do we go about our daily tasks. Catholicism rings out the holiness in the ordinary, and these words are as good as any to wake us up..."
The photo above of an 'ordinary' Filipina weaving on a traditional loom in the Philippines is taken from and was taken by Michael Radloff.


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