Famous for popular songs like "Margaritaville," Jimmy Buffett, responded to the suggestion that he might be the world's greatest party person. "I was! I had a great time! Then people start dying, you know. And having nervous breakdowns. And then you go, 'Wait a minute here'" (Rolling Stone, 1996). His comments, of course, are familiar: death, disease and tragedy bring us all up short. But the timing is interesting. Suddenly, at this late date, we say to ourselves: "People are dying and having nervous breakdowns." "People" here seems to mean people I know, those close to me. People I went to school with or who were in my wedding or with whom I worked or played basketball. Death, disease and tragedy only really get to us when they hit close. Ultimately even these have a tough time competing with the impact of "my" death, "my" illness, "my" personal tragedy. These really get to us. They tell us as they told Buffett, "Wait a minute here." The lesson is obvious and old but here in mid-November is as good time as any to pause. After a summer that brought some relaxation, we're back rushing about, up to our ears in deadlines. Am I shortchanging these people around me who are or will be dying, getting sick, having breakdowns? Can I put aside my work, my worries, my ambitions enough to be with husband or wife, children, friends? "Be Here Now" was the title a sixties guru gave to his book celebrating an insight he derived from Buddhism. However we come to it, we need to "be here now."
-- Don Talafous OSB
To often I find myself wondering about things in the future. When will the Sox open the season and where (April, in Arlington), what can I anticpate to happen in the office tomorrow regarding my projects and how will I handle these situations (I actually do this almost every night and it is helpful), if I make this decision what will other think of me, what are the consequences of my actions, who are the Patriots playing this week...why is the defensive scheme not working, why do the Bruins suck, what time is the RPI hockey game scheduled for internet broadcast. So many thoughts, so many examples in my life of not being here now.
How can we refocus ourselves to shed off all these distractions and be here now? It is different for everyone and I can only speak for myself. I find prayer to be one of the simplest ways to acheive this goal. Whether it is praying the rosary and reflecting on it's mysteries of Christ's life, praying before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration of our Lord, or going to Mass on a regular basis and just reading Scripture and contemplating about what it is teaching and praying to the Holy Spirit for wisdom to incoporate more perfectly into my daily life. As a Catholic, I feel so blessed to be able to go Mass daily should I feel drawn to do so, being able to enter in heaven on earth is truly the center of the Catholic faith and to be able to that daily is simply awesome. One of the other great things about the Catholic faith is that(save for local feast days and priestly ordination anniversaries) I can know fully what readings from Scripture will be read and preached about and I know with confidence that even the leas educated, the illiterate, will here the whole of the Bible read in the Church over a three year cycle if they go everyday. I can't express the sadness I feel knowing that the same can not always be found in the church's of my nonCatholic brothers and sisters. Some of them my attend one church their entire life and never hear the whole of Scripture read (in that statement I do not include the books removed by the early "reformers" that are included in the "Catholic Bible"). Alas, though, I am off track.
Another way to be here now comes no further than looking at everyone I encounter. We are all made in God's image and because Christ is God we are all created in the image of Christ. In everyone we encounter, we must remember that in them we encounter a bit of Christ regardless of race, sex, or creed. Think about that. I know I struggle with remembering that and must constantly remind myself of such. Love thy neighbor as thyself, but we must remember that the answer to the question "Who is our neighbor?" is simply "Everyone."
So what do we do then? We go forth and we serve one another. If someone is an unbeliever, we serve them. If someone if gay, we serve them. If someone if a murderer, we serve them, if someone if a rapist, we serve them. We may not be able to serve them all the same way, but we serve them none the less. Not to convert them, not to do anything else other than serve the image of Christ within them. No one on this planet can convert anyone, that is the work of the Holy Spirit. As St. Francis of Assisi is quoted to have said "Let us preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words." So let us be here now, and leave the rest to God's hands and His plans.
Father, in your goodness grant me the intellect to comprehend you, the perception to discern you, and the reason to appreciate you. In your kindness endow me with the diligence to look for you, the wisdom to discover you, and the spirit to apprehend you. In your graciousness bestow on me a heart to contemplate you, ears to hear you, eyes to see you, and a tongue to speak of you. In your mercy confer on me a conversation pleasing to you, the patience to wait for you, and the perseverance to long for you. Grant me a perfect end - your holy presence. Amen.
Saint Benedict of Nursia
St. Benedict of Nursia and St. Francis of Assisi pray for us.