The monastic life has taken on the extraordinary responsibility to pray for the Church constantly throughout the day and be a symbol of Christ’s stability in the modern world.
However, for most of the laity, that beautiful gift developed by St Benedict of Nursia, cannot be completely adapted in our lives. However, his motto could be the key to our present use of time: ‘Ora et Labora’ (Pray and Work).
For the laity, we have to use our ordinary tasks and present state in life to be in constant prayer and unity with our Lord.
Let us look at the Holy Mass and the priest. The altar becomes the table where Christ descends. The priest was anointed to celebrate such a sacrament. For the laity, the altar is: our books, desks, kitchen, car, the pavement, etc.
The mundane things of our daily life become our altar to ask the Holy Spirit to descend upon. But we should also take the effects of the Eucharist we receive in the Holy Mass everywhere we go and into everything we do.
With that said, would you not feel encouraged to complete your task well? Would you not be overjoyed to begin each task on time and conclude likewise? Would you not desire to use your ‘altar’ as a table to present all your worries, concerns, and intentions to our Lord?
The strict demand we place on ourselves in terms of time, will foster in us a desire to never waste each moment of the day, but work, fulfil our apostolate of friendship and sanctify our daily actions. Every hour, minute, second and moment can be directed toward God.
Let us finally consider our future use of time. I recall an interview that Abbot John Pereira OSB had with his brother Msgr Christian Pereira and Bishop Clyde Harvey on the anniversary of their priestly ordination.
In the interview, the Abbot mentioned that in the morning he plans his day and sometimes at night he asks himself what he has achieved that day.
I was a little perplexed by that statement, for I thought that if an Abbot in a Benedictine Monastery could be ‘distracted’, well then, I’m doomed! However, he did elaborate on the certainty that you’ll be uncertain as to how the day will really unfold.
Others may view this uncertainty as off-putting, but for us Catholics, the unexpected becomes opportunities to reconsecrate our “thoughts, words, actions, joys and sufferings” (Morning Prayer) to God.
By viewing our future setbacks as blessings and not as obstacles to our timetable, we grow in the understanding that we do not use our time well to please ourselves, but our time is really for God.
I would like to draw your attention to some subtle ways in which we might misuse our time: lacking punctuality, not keeping to a schedule, not fulfilling the duty of the moment, beginning projects without finishing them, inconstancy, day-dreaming and frivolous conversations.
By paying attention to these things, we will be able to avoid them and their near occurrences, and devote our time to work, study, family time and rest. In this way, we will create a suitable altar to which Christ could descend from Heaven and we could show Him to our friends, colleagues, and families.
We may never be like Alexander Hamilton, the US national hero and forger of a new independent nation, but with the same dedication to our work, the proper use of our time and the deeper devotion to our Lord we could be something greater, we will be SAINTS!