Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Be Sober and Alert

It is now the hour for you to wake

from sleep.

The night is far spent;

the day draws near.

Let us cast off the deeds of darkness

and put on the armor of light.

Let us live honorably as in daylight.

Romans 13:11b, 12-13a

This message from the Epistle to the Romans was the scripture reading at Morning Prayer today. Thematically, it underscores the message of all the allusions to the end times in the readings for Mass of these last days of the liturgical year: Be awake; You know not the hour; It will come like a thief in the night.

What are these end times? Ultimately it will be the end of the world. In a personal sense it will be the moment of death, our last breath, the final embrace of God in the next world. But just as we are so often urged to live in the moment, to savor the moment lest we miss its gift and its promise, perhaps we are being reminded to be conscious in this moment because each moment has its end, each moment offers the possibility of life or death. Each moment offers a gift of opportunity which will expire in no time at all.

And there is so much to which we are invited to be conscious. The call to contemplation is a call to consciousness, to awareness of the moment, awareness of those things, those events, and those people around us - what we allow to fade into the wood work by our lack of consciousness, our lack contemplative seeing, savoring and appreciating. Greater contemplative awareness calls us to linger in the moment and by our recognition of reality to be summoned to react with generosity, thanksgiving, compassion, service and a whole host of other human responses to which Jesus invites by teaching and example.

Many of us have been drawn into the endless hype concerning a presidential election that will take place a year from now. This is, it seems to me, a vast wasteland of distraction from what is real in this moment, in this time. Endless debates, miles of video tape, filled with words that toss about the horrible realities in such careless fashion that we can no longer see them for what they are, the very things we are to regard in sobriety and alertness.

How distracted we can become from what is real. How distant we become from that state of consciousness, that contemplative vision that sees in truth, names truth and creates a response that comes from deep within the soul and the psyche. And so we pray, "Let us cast off the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light."


Barbara said...

I will always remember a frieze above the entrance to a Catholic church in downtown Hamburg. There was the figure of Christ with arms extended and the words surrounding Him were Wachet Auf! Be alert or watch out! Your thoughtful reflections reminded me of this. We do well to focus on the now, the only place where we do encounter God.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for wonderful sites like this and wonderful, generous women and men of great depth and prayer.
Thomas Merton said something to the effect that we think Washington, D.C. is the center of all activity but it is rather the houses of prayer, the monasteries that are truly the centers of activity. I believe it is the constant prayer of God's Church and especially the monasteries that have kept the world safe thus far from nuclear disaster.
May God continue to keep us safe and bring us to peace.