With the Christmas season past and the Lenten season yet to come, the Church finds herself in the early weeks of Ordinary Time on the liturgical calendar. Yet this is no ordinary time.

Catholics were encouraged to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life last week. This week the Church celebrates the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The day before the week concludes next Tuesday, Catholics and other Americans numbering in the tens of thousands (at least, depending on whom you ask) will travel to Washington, D.C., to witness to the sanctity of human life at the annual March for Life. {{more}}

Locally, even while we commemorate the 200th year since St. John Neumann’s birth and prepare for another Catholic Schools week beginning the end of this month, the Archdiocese continues its planning initiatives. Call to Conversion and Holiness and the Blue Ribbon Commission on Catholic Education aim at the same time to forge a foundation for a stronger, more vibrant local church for many years to come.

No, this third week of January is not ordinary. But there is a constancy to the annual rhythms. We pray and put in the hard work of life lived in our family of faith, the Church. Those labors bear good fruit that is recognizable even in the snow and ice these days: Catholics pray in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament for vocations; the Catholic and other Christian churches move inexorably closer toward full unity; and the March for Life maintains its vigor in what must be the largest annual gathering of a like-minded group in the nation’s capital.

This witness for life caps the daily prayers, personal witness and public advocacy of pro-life Catholics, other Christians and people of good will. Their conviction that all life is sacred – especially the unborn and those nearing the end of life – and must be safeguarded is showing measurable results.

Abortions, at least in Pennsylvania, are down. Awareness of the subject of abortion – a living human child – is rising among young people. This undoubtedly is a major underlying reason for the decline. Of course one abortion or one embryonic stem cell experiment or one death due to euthanasia is too many. The work and the prayers to build respect for life continues.

Ordinary folks devoting their hearts and hands to the work of Jesus, and the Savior calling all people to conversion and holiness, according to the Father’s will. Nothing ordinary at all about that.