Friday, February 21, 2014

It's About Time (1)

By the grace of God and the generosity of the core group of SGD leaders,[1] I find myself the newly designated Editor of this blog. As such, I am expected to procure and produce content at certain intervals, make adjustments, and take on various other unspecified duties as the need arises. I am to write and to edit.

This fact is not in itself remarkable; what is striking is that this assignment was given without any scrutiny or background checks or other vetting procedures (not even a sample of my writing), without a probationary period, and without any parameters or limitations. Instead, in a closed-door meeting at an unpublicized location, the core group discussed various high-level topics, including the next stage of their own valiant efforts to make this group flourish, and then entrusted me with the responsibility to write for, with, and from the Sodality of Garcia Diego. I ask them to pray for my efforts. I likewise ask for the intercession of the patrons of our group and of St. Francis de Sales.

In my inaugural post, shouldn’t I say something profound? Or at least offer vicarious profundity by means of a compendium of my favorite quotes?

Or perhaps I should look at the calendar and then somehow brilliantly tie together the literary and spiritual legacies of 1) St. Peter Damian, O.S.B., Doctor of the Church (d. 1073, and whose feast is now celebrated on this day), 2) the poet and Jesuit martyr Ven. Robert Southwell (who happens to have died—specifically to have been hanged, drawn, and quartered—on this day in 1595), 3) Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (who happens to have been born on this day in 1801).

Father Time, 17th-century woodcut
Alas, no, I have nothing profound or brilliant to say, even to mark this date and time. I have wasted my time (and perhaps yours).  I could perhaps say something about seasonal time, and the time of the liturgical year as we move toward Lent. 

Maybe that will be another post, another time. Time passes, presses…I waste time, fret about time, mark time, but never make time—I sometimes find time, and I always use it. Lately I’ve been worried and anxious about timeabout running out of time—of time moving too quickly for what I need to do, and too slowly for whatever I might be waiting for. Hence this post’s title—for all its faults, this is a post about Time. 

I have just been reminded that all this fretting about time is un-Christian. I close with some thoughts of Thomas Merton’s[3] that I need to spend more time contemplating:
“To understand the attitude of the Christian and of the Liturgy towards time we must have a profound understanding of Christian hope and trust. Fundamentally the Christian is at peace with time because he is at peace with God…Time has now come to terms with man’s freedom…Time for the Christian is then the sphere of his spontaneity, a sacramental gift in which he can allow his freedom to deploy itself in joy, in the creative virtuosity of choice that is always blessed with the full consciousness that God wants His sons to be free, that He is glorified by their freedom.”
The sentences I omitted refer to the state of sin vs. state of grace. Obviously, the lines I quoted refer to the Christian in the state of grace. These pages were just what I needed to read this week, caught as I was in self-centered worries about time. Incidentally, consider this a reminder to go to confession—it is Shrovetide, after all.
As we move toward Lent, let us remember that our Redeemer’s life, suffering, death, and resurrection sanctified Time itself. +

[1] “Core group” seems to be generally accepted terminology at this moment, at least until such time as the charter is completed and accepted. These leaders could be called the Group of Five (G5). The phrase “Founding members” does not apply, partly because two of the founders (the “royal couple”) have left, and partly because the present writer joined later--“as one born out of due time” (1 Cor 15:8). For now, the number of officers (and titles and duties thereof) is still tentative.

[2] Merton, Thomas. Seasons of Celebration. Chapter 3: “Time and the Liturgy.” published 1950-1965.


  1. As another of the so-called G5 (a designation I personally approve of despite its rather secular origins), and author of a previous blog post, I welcome the being who prefers to be known to strangers as TMR, to the position of blog editor. Since many of our conversations are in the general tone of this blog post, it may be understood why we felt confident in her abilities, even after only reading her writing in the form of emails. She has brought forth many edifying points. I may take on the challenge of trying to form a connection between Peter Damian, Southwell and Newman in a future comment, but now is not the time.

    The problem of time is one I have also been dealing with. What is the best use of time? Are we getting where we need to go as soon as we should, where is that anyway, and what are we waiting for that we can little imagine? Much depends on our vocations, family status, type of career, type of personality, and much else. Yet it is incumbent upon all of us to face the fact that we do have limited time. Merton’s quote is quite helpful. Because of the variety of situations God places us in, he may demand that we spend our time differently, in some ways, than other people might, and to embark on some life journeys more slowly or more quickly than others might. What matters most is that we seek God, and do so, as we believe, through our holy Catholic Church.

    Two clarifications are necessary.
    First, TMR correctly states that our so-called Royal Couple left. This may seem rather mysterious to those not acquainted with us personally. Rest assured that they did not leave because of any discord within the organization. Rather, they moved to a different location and cannot regularly meet with us in person. But as Anthony stated upon announcing this, we will see them in the eucharist. In addition to that, there is a slight chance that they may contribute to this blog, if they find it is a good use for their time. As a token of their continued association with us, TMR was able to find a reference by Merton to Anthony’s beloved tradition of Catholic spontaneity.

    Second, upon reading 1 Corinthians 15, I find that Saint Paul is describing himself as the one born in due time. Although TMR’s loose comparison of herself to Saint Paul is appropriate within the context, rest assured that she never persecuted us before joining. As for the somewhat spectacular story in terms of modern life, but less so when compared to Saint Paul, regarding how TMR was born in due time and rapidly rose to become a leader of our group, perhaps she or I will continue the chronicle I started last Advent, at a later date.

    1. Thank you for the kind words and clarifying questions. Throughout this Lenten seasons, I'll keep thinking and praying about the best use of [my] time.
      Thank you also for the clarifications, rectifications, and amplifications. :)

  2. I also appreciate TMR's invocation of seasonal time. Since my conversion, I have always been interested in the concept of the liturgical year. Many of us have already considered our preparations for Lent.
    Taking the idea of seasonal time in another direction, we must also as a sodality continue to pray for precipitation in our beloved state of California.

    Returning to the 1 Corinthians, I have considered that the Sodality or an associated group could conduct a study of this great Epistle at some point in the near future.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. 1) How are you preparing for Lent? I look forward to your comments and suggestions on Lenten posts. [For a brief discussion of liturgical time, see Msgr. Elliott's "Restoring Sacred Time: How the Liturgical Year deepens Catholic faith"here That's the first chapter of a book available from Ignatius Press. I had two other resources, but I seem to have lent them out and not gotten them back. Also, a couple of years ago, I read Dom Gueranger's 15-volume classic _The Liturgical Year_. Quite intensive and extensive! I'll go back to my notes on that soon.]
      2) Thank God for rain! And let's keep praying that we have sufficient precipitation for the year.
      3) Good idea.

  3. Looks to me like we appointed the right person as editor. This is much better writing than I could have done.

    1. Very kind of you to say so.
      Seems to me we have the right person as webmaster, too. Many thanks for your efforts.