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Embrace every moment as sacred time

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PLAINFIELD, NJ (October 11, 2009) - "At times relax outdoors where you can walk and see the sky; your prayer will suffer no loss because of this; it's necessary that we bear our weakness and not try to constrain our nature. Everything amounts to seeking God, since it is for him that we search out every kind of means, and the soul must be led gently." St. Teresa of Avila

It has always been my habit to stay up late at night, beyond the time when everyone else has gone to bed. It stemmed from having lots of little children in the house and very little quiet time, except when 12 little feet were tucked under the blankets.

So it is not unusual to find me at the piano, practicing a choral piece at 3 am. What I still find amazing is that I can sit down at the piano at midnight and, in what seems like only an hour, will get up to make some tea and discover it is almost daybreak.

Absorbed in something I love, there is often no sense of time.

Yet, earlier in the day, when I was trying to meet a deadline at work, with a dozen other responsibilities hanging over me, time seemed to be mocking me, an ever present reminder that I may never accomplish all that needs to be done.

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Time is a funny thing. It seems to move faster as we get older. And as it pulls us along, often at a pace that seems out of control, we struggle to be masters of those precious moments, sensing that, in addition to life and faith, time is one of the greatest gifts we have.

Time embraces life and nudges it to fullness; the flower from seed to petals; the butterfly from larvae to graceful wings; the child from embryo to adulthood. And within the womb of time rest the experiences, the formative encounters, which make us unique individuals.

Perhaps, most profoundly, time provides the opportunity for forgiveness, for do-overs, for loving better; for surely, one of the deepest losses we face is the loss of time with a loved one. And when that loss is spurred by death, our lives are never the same.

Still, in the face of our mortality and heavily engaged in the temporal affairs of our lives, we often find the moments of our days slipping away, unnoticed and unfulfilled because we are caught up in too many things. It seems our lives are no longer organic, integrated with the world created by our God. In a world ruled by human technology, goals and objectives, our rhythms are no longer aligned with the rhythm of the seasons. We have become foreigners in a land created for our well-being, yet we wonder how our days have gotten so out of control.

How, then, can we reclaim time as a good?

There is a lesson in all the religions of the world. Sacred time.

Sacred time has the feel of those experiences of absorption, where the linear ticking of seconds disappears and our feelings of anxiety are balanced by a sense of peace.

Being mindful of the sacredness of time encourages us to be mindful of God, and nurtures awareness. Engaging in the rituals of our faith, surrounded by sacred symbols drawn from our ordinary lives - bread, wine, water, oil, flame - reassures us that all of life is sacred. The rhythm of the liturgical year reminds us that life must have a meaningful rhythm, as well.

We may turn also, to the wisdom of the saints, like Benedict, whose Rule included a construct of time that allowed for a necessary balance of prayer, work and leisure. For St. Benedict, the ordinary was so charged with the sacred that he wrote, "Regard all utensils as if they were the sacred vessels of the altar." Benedict wove within the lives of his monks, times of prayer throughout the day. When hearts and minds are so often turned toward God, an awareness of God at all times and in all places grows.

We ask you, humbly: don't scroll away.

Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you.

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Or St. Teresa of Avila, whose wisdom shown through a poem both simple and profound in its grasp of time: Let nothing upset you, let nothing startle you. All things pass; God never changes.


Mary Regina Morrell is a free-lance writer and columnist living in New Jersey, sharing the blessings and challenges of life with her husband and six wonderful sons. Her website,, is currently under construction. Her email address is


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