91 Days Down, (Maybe) 275 to Go

A quarter of the year is done. What did we do with it?

April 1 has arrived, this year as Easter Monday. We’re in the Octave of Easter and approaching the great Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday.

One thing many people won’t note, except perhaps accountants and economists, is that the first quarter of 2024 is now over. Yes, perhaps it’s hard to believe—wasn’t it just New Year’s Day?—but a quarter of the year has now passed by. As says the medieval phrase which was immortalized in English thanks to Chaucer, “Time and tide wait for no man.” We best heed the Moody Blues’ words: “Don’t leave me driftwood on the shore.”

Tempus fugit! If the first quarter seems to have sped by (perhaps accelerated by its containing Lent and Easter), so the second quarter, ending June 30, will likely go as fast.

Why mention this? Ninety-some days ago, people were making lots of “resolutions” for the New Year. If they were anything more than a folklore custom, the end of the first quarter is a good time to look back and ask about those resolutions. Did they go anywhere? In retrospect, should they have? If “yes,” then what kind of course correction might I want to undertake in the second quarter?

We just renewed our Baptismal vows this past weekend. That’s a sure foundation. But how can we make our vows to renounce evil and to love God more real? How do we put more meat on those bones? Perhaps tweaking some of those resolutions from the new year would help. Maybe some of this year’s Lenten resolutions merit prolongation?

As Fénelon observed, time is the one thing with which God is, in some ways, slightly less generous. Since “all time belongs to Him, and all the ages” (as we prayed at the Easter Vigil), any time He gives us is a great gift. That said, God’s gift of time is a fixed reservoir with a hole in the dike, constantly depleting. Its wise use is, therefore, part of the beginning of wisdom. Would the six men who died under Baltimore’s Key Bridge, brought together from three foreign lands to the deck of an American bridge on a cold spring night after midnight, have expected their lives would end before the end of 1Q24 in Baltimore Harbor?

Bernard Häring would note that the ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos and kairos. Chronos is the routine sense of time, the stuff we “measure” and which “passes.” Kairos is the special moment, the moment of opportunity, the moment of grace. Because it is a gift, it should not be squandered because, as even as the secular proverb counsels, “opportunity doesn’t knock twice.” Fast forwarding to the fourth quarter, when the Gospel often appears, consider the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. The kairos comes in the form of the Bridegroom: those who are ready go in, for the others, the door is shut. As Father Adam puts it in the film version of The Jeweler’s Shop: “They miss their chance, and their Love.”

A quarter of the year — another quarter of a year in your life — is now for good, for evil, or for indifference, closed. Done well or ill, it can’t be undone. The present stands, the future beckons. But only the present is guaranteed. As I think Adrian van Kaam quoted it, the past is a cancelled check, the future a promissory note. Only the present is ready cash.

Don’t miss your chance, or your Love.

 

John M. Grondelski (Ph.D., Fordham) was former associate dean of the School of Theology, Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey. All views expressed herein are exclusively his.

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