Time and Beyond-Time


The Church often explains the liturgical year (and the liturgy of the hours) as “time made holy.”

The Year of Grace 2011

A person who pays attention to the liturgical year will encounter a cycle of experiences: the hope and expectancy of Advent, the amazement and joy of Emmanuel, God-With-Us, at Christmas (and for all of us! at Epiphany), the memory of our failings and the fallen human condition in Lent, the deep Mystery of the Triduum and joy at a salvation we could not achieve for ourselves in the Easter Season; then Pentecost brings the Holy Spirit to lead us into a time of following Jesus in his many teachings on how to live our life in this world.

That cycle becomes a spiral; each time we move through it, we are changed. We come around to the next liturgical year different than when we began.

Since the 1925 encyclical Quas Primas, the liturgical year has a celebration at its end – a celebration of Christ’s kingdom beyond all time, in which worship and liturgy are eternal. This celebration of Christ the King offers us the possibility to think about time.

Time as God’s gift

Time must be a gift from God (although we often wish He made just a little more of it).  If God exists outside of time, beyond time, where time doesn’t matter (“a thousand years are like a day…”) – and if we believe that all of creation is God’s handiwork – we find that God gave us mortals something He doesn’t need himself: time, the linear occurrence of one thing after another.  With this gift of time, we have the potential to grow and change, to know Him better. While we rail against time – our lives are too short, we don’t have enough time in the day, everyone wants my time – there is something even in these experiences that is a gift from God.

As we celebrate Christ the King and prepare for the new Year of Grace 2011, perhaps we can take some time this week to welcome God’s gift of time, and to ask for the grace to receive both the linear beginning-to-end of life and the spiral of the liturgical year as pure gift – and to be open to whatever God intends to bring through it.

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One comment

  1. I like this. I’m fascinated with our time/God’s time and how they work together. Even though I don’t understand it, I believe it opens unlimited possibilities. When I discovered that my then-15-year-old adopted son had an attachment -and-bonding disorder that stemmed from the first weeks of his life and couldn’t be reversed, I knew that only God could cure him. So I prayed for “when he was a baby,” even though he was 15 years old as I prayed. I prayed daily for a year, and then began to notice his behavior and attitude changing, slowly, bit by bit, until he was changed.

    I also love the liturgical year. I think I shared elsewhere that when I was in college, I took a course in Judaism which covered the various feasts and celebrations of their year. I loved the rhythm of it and how it gave a structure to their years, and was slightly envious, until I suddenly realized our liturgical year does the same thing. I love the flow of seasons and feasts, and have taught myself to celebrate inwardly even when no one else is even aware of day’s significance.

    At Mass today, the pastor of my former parish in Chicago said each moment should be seen as an opportunity to be Christ to others through our words and actions. Somehow, that fits into this whole theme, of making life holy for ourselves and for the mission God has given each of us.

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