In part, the increased giving level of the appeal this past Advent was due to the addition of one thousand names to our parish data base. The appeal letter went some eight hundred former students with whom I lived at Notre Dame. Their return gifts were very generous, and I have let them know that the entire parish is grateful.
Beyond their gift to the parish, many of these former students gave me a gift that is truly more precious than gold—pictures and verbal descriptions of their families or, at least, their children. Wow! These are men I first met when they were seventeen or eighteen year-old kids, and now they are loving, doting parents. Their posts on facebook and other social media focus mostly on their new lives as parents. I can almost experience what grand parenting must be like.
At the time I met these young men at Notre Dame, they were not thinking of what they are experiencing now. They were then focused on studying, partying and football. Now, their focus is parenting, working and football! They had and have a deeper sense and understanding of living in the moment than I remember that I had at their age.
My tendency was and, to some extent still is to see each moment of life of life as a time of waiting, waiting for the next moment, when things will really be real! I have always tended to focus more on the future than on the present.. There was always something just ahead, and the present time was its waiting room
Unlike my young friends, I had difficulty focusing on the moment. I would always be thinking of –even yearning for—whatever came next. I think I missed out on a lot of my own life because of that.! Any given moment is so full of purpose and meaning that to miss engaging in any given moment is a loss that cannot be reclaimed. Now, though, as I realize what lies ahead, the present moment is much more appealing, and I am better able to live in it and experience it on its own terms.
The current period of the liturgical calendar is called ordinary time . It is the time when it is not Advent, Christmas, Lent or Easter. It is the majority of the year, lasting thirty-four weeks. It the time we mean when we say normally or usually. It is the time when we live out what we celebrated during the Christmas and Easter seasons.
In the institution of the Eucharist, Jesus made time stand still. He left to die, and he left us the Eucharist which allows him to stay among us alive, with body and blood. Every moment is the same moment in the new creation he left us as a covenant of love. What we have now is all we need and long for. There is no need to wait for anything—it is all here. Now! What we saw as a distant future for which we were impatient is always right here, right now. It is the new norm—it is the ordinary. So, we can live fully in this new and eternal moment, and leave time to itself. Ah, freedom!