Given the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Father Federico Lombardi, S.J. has written a series of articles to look beyond, to the future that awaits us, published by “Vatican News.”
In this second part, the Jesuit priest speaks of the “shock” that our accelerated lives have received and of the rediscovery of the Lord’s time during the pandemic. “The time for the Lord can seem marginal in a day, but in reality, it is the time in which a source of meaning and order can emerge for the rest of the time of our lives in the light of the Gospel.”
Here is the second part of the unabridged article published by “Vatican News.”
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One of the first observations that Pope Francis makes in the Encyclical Laudato Si’, looking at “what is happening in our home,” refers to “acceleration,” namely, the continuous acceleration of the changes of humanity and of the planet, together with the intensification of the rhythms of life and of work. He observes that this speed is in disagreement with the natural times of biological evolution and he wonders if the objectives of the changes are oriented to the common good and to an integral and sustainable human development.
All of us who have reached a certain age, looking at the short time of our lives, have witnessed often that quantity of things we’ve seen change completely and that, after an ever shorter series of years, has changed again. Fortunately, many things have changed for the better, such as the conditions of life of many poor people, possibilities for treatment and surgical operations, free movement, education, information, and communication. However, at the same time we have also <witnessed> that the obsolescence of many goods has accelerated much beyond the necessary, only to fuel economic development and the benefits of certain sectors, advertising pushing obsessively the desire of superfluous novelties, creating a true addiction which makes novelty, the ultimate product seem necessary, so that in many areas the acceleration of change runs the risk of becoming an end in itself, slavery more than progress. It seems clear that a path has been taken of unsustainable rhythm, which sooner or later will break, as the very grave environmental risks indicate.
For their part, many active people, well-integrated in the functioning of the modern world with important functions, are generally occupied in very intense rhythms of activity, not to say frenetic. They often participate with passion and gusto, but later they realize that they paid a very high price in terms of human and family relations, of affections and of the balance of the personality in general.
Now this ever more accelerated race has suffered a formidable shock. The indexes of economic activity are altered, our agendas have been revolutionized, our appointments and trips have been canceled. For many people, the time has become empty and they are disoriented.
Yes . . . time . . . how should it be lived? Of what use is it in the end? There is the time of activity, but there is also the time of waiting full of joy, the time of being together and of loving one another, the time of contemplation of beauty, the time of long nights of insomnia, of waiting in suffering . . . There is also the possibility of wasting much time unnecessarily. Of becoming bitter out of a sensation of uselessness and emptiness . . . There is also the time to be with oneself . . . Does the time also exist to be with God? When we are full of life, we often push it to the margins of existence, because we find innumerable things to do before, which seem more urgent or agreeable, whereas being before the Lord can be postponed.
For many people this strange time of staying at home due to the pandemic. It has been a time to rediscover prayer. We wonder if the reduced possibility of going to church will affect the faith and spiritual life negatively; however, it can also be a moment in which — as Jesus said to the Samaritan woman — we learn to adore the Lord in spirit and in truth everywhere, including at home where we are obliged to stay, including in a forced exterior activity. Jesus adds that the Spirit blows where and when it wills, but without excluding that we too can offer <the Spirit> occasions and ways to blow, helping us mutually to maintain alive, in a thousand ways, the presence of God on the horizon of our time, through witness, word, and closeness in charity.
The time for the Lord might seem marginal in the day, but in reality, it is the time from which a source can emerge of meaning and order for the rest of the time of our lives, in the light of the Gospel. What has been good in my days, in this day of mine? With what spirit have I lived my relations with persons entrusted to me or that I have met? We have all heard talk of the “examination of conscience,” to place ourselves before God and thus put our lives in order. However, we have often forgotten it. Is not the pandemic that has altered the rhythms of our lives an unexpected occasion to reorder them so that they find their purpose and meaning, not only for ourselves but also for our human community?