Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Return to Ordinary Time- "I'm not sleeping"

At least for Roman Catholics in the United States, today marks our return of Ordinary Time. We'll persist in Ordinary Time until Ash Wednesday, which we'll observe on 22 February. The "ordinary" in Ordinary Time is not contrasted with extraordinary. Rather, it means ordinal. What ordinal relates to is position in a series. For example, today is the First Tuesday in Ordinary Time (note we don't say/write of Ordinary Time, but in). The series that positions the days in Ordinary Time is the numbered Sundays. This coming Sunday is the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.

What prompted this post was Morning Prayer for today, which is taken from Week I of the Psalter. It is the same passage used by the Church for Morning Prayer on the First Sunday of Advent, the first day of the new Year of Grace or Liturgical Year:
it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness [and] put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day (Romans 13:11-13)
This somehow strikes me as a fitting way to begin this season of Ordinary Time. In verse 14, Saint Paul exhorted: "put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh."

The Greek word the ends the fourteenth verse of Saint Paul's Letter to the Romans is not sarx, which needs to be distinguished from soma, or body, in the apostles' writings. Rather, it is ἐπιθυμίας, which, transliterated, is epithumia. It refers to "passionate longing" or "lust." Our passionate longing, our erotic desire, should be for the Lord.

As for using the word "erotic" in a spiritual context, I just started reading Emanuel Falque's book of the Eucharist. I am not far into the book yet. In his treatment of what is central to Christian faith and life, Falque insists
God in his agape does not imitate the amorous lovemaking of humankind. Rather, it is humankind that learns precisely from the agape of God, in eros, how to love a body that is offered in difference: “‘This is my body, which is given for you’” (Luke 22:19). I am not suggesting here that eros and agape are the same (univocal). But we shall see later (§10) how the eucharistic act can serve as a model, a place of integration as much as of transformation, where our human eros becomes the divine agape. That is the true meaning of the erotic scene, to be taken and included with the eucharistic Last Supper (Falque, Emmanuel. The Wedding Feast of the Lamb: Eros, the Body, and the Eucharist [Perspectives in Continental Philosophy], p. 29. Fordham University Press. Kindle Edition)
One thing is for sure, love requires you not just to be awake but to be awakened, to be alert, and attentive. Each day is an Advent. Each day we don't just wait for but eagerly anticipate the Lord.

As the final verse of end of U2's song "Bad" has it:
I'm wide awake, I'm wide awake
Wide awake, I'm not sleeping
Oh no, no, no

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