Archdiocese of Chicago

Cardinal George's Network Archive

Monday, October 26, 2009

Losing Time

When they were preparing the case for canonizing St. Teresa of Avila, the great reformer of the Carmelite Order in the sixteenth century and a doctor of the Church, the proceedings stalled because they couldn’t account for ten days of her life.  Had she run away from the convent?  Had she dropped out of her community’s life?  Then someone noted that the ten days missing were the days dropped from the calendar itself when Pope Gregory XIII reformed the old Julian Roman calendar to synchronize it with the revolution of the earth around the sun.  The Gregorian calendar was immediately adopted by Catholic countries, including St. Teresa’s Spain, but Orthodox and Protestant countries didn’t want to adopt a Catholic reform, even though the old calendar was less and less useful for keeping human time and the yearly natural seasons coordinated.  The British Empire used the Julian calendar until after the American Revolution.  Russia used it until the 1917 Communist revolution (called the October revolution, although it took place in November according to the Gregorian calendar).  Many of the Eastern churches still use it for their liturgical year, which is why Orthodox Christmas and Easter don’t coincide with the civil and Catholic liturgical calendars here.

Why this long reflection on calendars?  Because I just realized that I had skipped a week in writing for this network.  I sometimes feel I’ve lost an hour or even a day, but this is the first time I’ve lost a week!  Losing time is different from wasting time.  Losing time usually means that one has been so absorbed in private concerns that you lose track of the larger rhythms of nature and of society.  Losing time can leave you isolated, unless the time “lost” is spent with God.  God always keeps us connected, whether we realize it or not.  God bless you.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI

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