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Seizing the Day the Christian Way

Is “seizing the day” the solution to our modern maladies, to the anxieties that we feel? We can see that there is a way of being attentive to the present moment, of carrying out the precise task demanded of us at all times, which is part of the way to holiness. Yet such a way is far different from the contemporary craze for “living in the now,” or by any other means eating, drinking, and making merry, by living in a brilliant sunshine of the present in order to forget that we will die. So, how do we strike a balance?

Such a life of constant indulgence and distraction is not scriptural in any holistic sense, nor is it Christian, inasmuch as we take the life of the Christian to be modeled on that of Christ. The Bible, though it constantly reads time in the light of eternity, is of all great works of literature perhaps the one most concerned with time. Genesis gives us time’s beginning. Revelation shows us time’s end. We are told the number of Adam’s years and the years of Israel’s enslavement in Egypt. The book of Kings supplies its rhythmic delineation of each king’s reign. Scripture dwells endlessly on the cycles of time, from the seven-day work of Creation to the three-day epiphanic sequences of Sinai, the wedding at Cana, and the Resurrection. The Gospels are filled with phrases such as “on the third day,” “the next day,” “it was then about noon,” “from the sixth hour to the ninth hour,” and “immediately.”

Whereas the great Homeric epics exist in a kind of bright eternity always focused on the present temporal moment—the endless sunshine of figures on Grecian urns poised on the verge of battle or love—the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures hold up the present moment and its extensions against the dark, brooding background of eternity. A figure like Odysseus is the true king of seizing the moment, of taking whatever time presents to him, whether it be a meal in the cave of a Cyclops or a year in the bed of Circe. The background of Penelope and Telemachus, of Laertes and Athena, fades away as he adventures across the Mediterranean. For a figure like Abraham, on the other hand, it is the eternal background of God that at every moment informs his temporal actions.

For the scriptural authors, then, life is not a matter of seizing the moment but of lifting every moment to eternity. The anxiety we experience as a result of time may, under this rubric, become a means of our being stretched with Christ on the Cross toward time’s eternal limit. That is, the more biblical our outlook is, the more our consciousness will expand to the beginning and the end to embrace all in between as a gift of God—and as a sacrifice that the Son offers in His own body to the Father. Still, the temporal distension which all men experience as a prime cause of anxiety is not limited to those of us who sin. We see throughout the Gospels that Jesus does not reduce His ministry to a kind of supreme living in the moment. On the contrary, He is deeply concerned with time, specifically with His hour. He reminds Mary of this during the wedding at Cana. He prophesies three times that He will suffer and die and on the third day be raised. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He looks ahead to His Passion in such agony that blood flows from His pores.

Read more at Catholic Exchange 

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