Recovery of Leisure: Regaining the Mind and Redeeming the Time
believe in the Gospel." This notion of time is imported into the Eastern liturgy when the deacon proclaims to the priest invoking the words of Psalm 118 (119): 126: Kairos tou poiesai to Kyrio, "It is time for the Lord to act."
The notion of kairos is entirely gone from modern life. Chronos reigns supreme. We work off schedules. We punch time clocks. We confront deadlines. We are impatient when time does not conform to us. We hate waiting. We want things now, not necessarily when it is right. We idolize regularity.
The Gospel sees things differently, and it tells of a Truth which is intended to set us free. (John 8:32) "For freedom Christ set us free." (Gal. 5:1) The Gospel if we allow it to bear fruit frees us from activity. It frees our intellect. It redeems our time.
The narrative of Martha and Mary, the sisters of his friend Lazarus is the place to turn to for instruction. (Luke 10:38-42) Christ, one might remember, decides to stay at the home of Martha and Mary. How do the two hostesses respond to the divine guest? In their response, they are types for us. One type to avoid. The other type to follow.
Martha, in her effort to make Christ welcome, becomes preoccupied with many things. Martha is activity for activity's sake. Martha is the active life. She is a type of ratio. She is stuck in chronos. She is "total work." And in her busyness, she passes right by Christ, and even chastises him through Mary. Martha was like the harried young postulant who was stopped by Blessed Jeanne Jugan, foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor, and was told she was leaving God behind in her great hurry. Martha was a modern woman, and she was leaving God behind. In such a state, Martha could not worship. To worship, one must first rest. "Be still (scholasate) and know that I am God." (Ps. 45:10 [46:11]).
Mary is so different from Martha. She is not modern. Almost heedless to her responsibilities, Mary is preoccupied with just one thing: the divine guest before whose feet she sat. She is contemplation. She is a type of intellectus or "listening-in to the being of things." She is being schooled by Christ. She is being still (scholasate) and hence knows God the way God must be known. She is at worship. Time for her is kairos.
We must be like Mary if we are to regain our mind and if we are to redeem the time. This is at the heart of the Gospel: we must be still-at leisure, at rest-and then, and only then, shall we know God. And God is the purpose, the end, of everything, including work and rest. In the contemplation of being, especially Being, we will regain our mind and we will redeem the time.
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Leisure, work, peace, contemplation, freedom, catholic social teaching, rest, Andrew Greenwell, Esq.
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