Nov 2, 2011
The arrival of November signals that the year is winding down. Today, All Souls’ Day is dedicated to remembering our departed loved ones. The past becomes present, and perhaps, even for a few moments, we relive some of those times we experienced with our loved ones. Still, the past cannot be retrieved, nor can the future predicted. Only the present moment can be grasped.
The Church’s Theology of Time
The Judeo-Christian view of time is directional, cyclical and spiral. In the Judeo-Christian notion, time unveils its own secret meanings. Jews and Christians can take their world in an upward direction with a sense of purpose. This ascent to God in the here and now directs our actions with creativity and with a view to change and progress. The annual cycle of the holy days recalls that the Jews are God’s Chosen People with a mandate to please God and build a better world by living the divine covenant. This mandate is also the Christian’s, but with the new awareness that the coming of Christ has enriched our view of time; we too live in the sacred mysteries of Christ. His Incarnation has made earthly time sacred. Christ lived and worked in time, preached the building the kingdom in anticipation of the heavenly kingdom, and died on that solemn day of days. His life exemplifies how to sacralize our time. He did everything to please his Father.
The clock moves us from one little task of the day to the next. We rise in the morning perhaps with a faint awareness that we write part of our life story on the day’s blank slate. The day awaits our imprint. For the Catholic Christian, the daily cycle of little things assumes greater importance because Jesus dealt with minutia.
The daily cycle of street time is also the Church’s cycle of sacred time. The one is lived concentrically within the other, but the Church’s year of grace takes precedence over the ticking of the clock. (The phrase, “the Church’s year of grace,” is the title of the five-volume set of books by Pius Parsch, “The Church’s Year of Grace” (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1962.) Beauty shall continue to be our subject: living the beauty of the Church’s year of grace.
Life Lived As Though God Does Not Exist
Today, religious faith in the western world is one of many options, and even Catholics have opted for a secular humanism. Moral erosion has eaten into the very fabric of living. A secularized and sexualized culture engulf the family. Moral relativism has been elevated to a civil religion and a public philosophy. For many, life is no longer lived with reference to God and no longer viewed as central or essential to one’s life.
The Catholic family who wishes to live a devout faith needs to look beyond our secularized street time. A secular culture is not synonymous with a secularized culture. The former is healthy because it recalls Jesus’ caution that what belongs to Caesar is to be given to Caesar, but what belongs to God is to be given to God. Secularization thrives in an atmosphere that not only has no need for God in the public square, but it consciously pursues the attitude that men and women can and should live as though God does not exist. As Catholics, we do not subscribe to this view. We believe in a God-centered and Christ-centered world. We need the support of sacred time to face the onslaught of a secularism that seeks to quarantine Catholic faith and practice from the public square.