This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steal;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays kings, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.
~ J. R. R. Tolkien in The Hobbit
Msgr. Magee’s homily on Wednesday, the 14th of March 2018 spoke some thoughts that I had been seeking to give shape to within myself for some time. He preached with eloquence and zeal about the love of God the Father and the pouring out of Christ’s Blood on the Cross so that the world could receive the Holy Spirit. As Msgr. Magee’s words echoed throughout Immaculate Conception Chapel, my soul was stirred to love and adoration for the hidden God behind the tabernacle curtain. St. Augustine’s famous phrase: “Oh happy fall that granted us so great a savior!”comes to mind when we contemplate the truly marvelous things that God has done for mankind. Msgr. Magee wasn’t finished though. He ended the homily by connecting what God has done for us with a simple and common thing that needs attention and often correction among us seminarians: time.
We all value our time. Msgr. Magee even pointed out that we call it “our time” to emphasize the need to radically re-think some of our selfish and basic thoughts when seen in the light of Christ. I reflected about how much I valued “my time” and how vexed I can be when inconveniences come up that gnaw away at the precious minutes of my ever so valuable day. As men who, God-willing, will one day be priests of Jesus Christ, surrendering our time might be one of the most important lessons we can learn here at seminary.
I am not, of course, insinuating that we should not have a structured day and know what we need to do in each hour to accomplish our work and leisure. What I am suggesting is that we seriously evaluate how we are using Jesus Christ’s time. The thousands of seconds that make up each day belong to Him, not us. As we approach Lent here at St. Charles, we owe God nothing less than to take a serious look at how we have spent the time He has given us in these past months.
In turn, there are some important questions that we, as seminarians, should ask ourselves: Do we take time in silence to pray everyday? If I’m not spending time with Jesus in the Eucharist each day, what am I doing instead? If we don’t say the complete Liturgy of the Hours everyday, why aren’t we? If we’re not doing the reading to get the most out of our classes, can we look our Diocesan Bishops in the face and say we’re trying our best to be worthy of the $30,000 a year he is spending on each of us for seminary formation? If I end up staying later at apostolate than normal, do I gripe about the time I will not have back at the seminary?
I would hazard a guess that all of us (including and especially myself—which is one of the reasons Msgr. Magee’s homily struck such a cord within me) are guilty of some of the above indictments. We must pray for the grace to see time as God’s and not ours. We must be willing to bring up how we spend time each day with our formation advisors and spiritual directors. We must be flexible and docile to both formation and the promptings of the Holy Spirit when faced with decisions about what to prioritize.
I fail to give Christ my time everyday to one degree or another. I grow impatient to be back at the seminary while out on apostolate. And I do skimp on my reading for upcoming classes far too often. If I were to truly see time as belonging to Jesus Christ and not myself, then all the moments throughout my day would become divinized and caught up in God’s grace, every minute become sanctifying, and every hour bring me closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Let us pray that we can begin that journey here, now, in this moment and live it into eternity.