A reflection by our Abbess, Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB
Happy first day of Ordinary Time! (Ordinary Time comes from the Latin word “ordinalis,” meaning, “numbered,” and constitutes the period of the Church’s liturgical year which falls outside the two great seasons of Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter. The first day of Ordinary Time in 2024 was January 9.)
Today, the First Tuesday in Ordinary Time, the first Mass reading is about Hannah and Samuel, and Hannah’s sorrow over not having any children. When she goes into the Temple to pray for a child, Eli the priest calls her drunk, but do you think she pays any attention to that? Absolutely not! She simply explains to him that she is not drunk, but in a great deal of sorrow. When we are in pain, and acting out a little bit, we know what’s really going on and why we are hurting. So if anyone says something contrary, we don’t need to get worked up about it. We know what is going on within us, and what we need to address. That is why self-knowledge is so important, and living in the truth. Live in what is real, because if you can do that, nothing is going to bother you. You can pour it out before the Lord, and bring it to Him simply, as Hannah did (cf. 1 Samuel 1:9-20). She abandoned her situation into the hands of the Lord, and was completely at peace. And we can remember that in community life, when things are not going exactly as we planned, or we experience some jealousy or rivalry, we should give it over to the Lord. Acknowledge what is really going on, what is hurting you, but then put it into His hands. To live this way is to live for Christ. When you can value His opinion more than anyone else’s, and count all the little hurts as nothing in comparison to pleasing Him, then you are truly living for Him. And living for Him is the greatest thing you can do.
In the Gospel for Mass today, we hear about Jesus entering the synagogue where there was a man with a bad spirit. Christ never condemns the person, but He says to the demon, “Quiet! Come out of him!” (Mark 1:25). I love that. It teaches you what to do when you find something in yourself that is not of God – anger, jealousy, etc. Why don’t you just turn to that spirit and say, “Get out of me! I don’t want you – you’re not my company.” You do have authority to do that. And you should, you should fight it head on. Be straightforward about it, and count on the Lord to join you in your fight. He Himself will say, “Get out of her! Leave her alone!” But you have to acknowledge it, and you have to want it to be gone. Do this, and you will see how much freer you are.
In transitioning from Christmastide to Ordinary Time, we take down all our Christmas decorations except for the trees in our chapel, which we leave up until February 2 (The Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple).