Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kyrios, Kairos

St Therese Relic Makes Space Flight (HT: The Catholic Bubble).

"I have the vocation of an apostle. I would like to travel over the whole earth to preach your name and to plant your glorious cross on infidel soil. But oh, my beloved, one mission would not be enough for me, I would want to preach the Gospel on all five continents simultaneously and even to the most remote isles. I would be a missionary, not for a few years but from the beginning of creation until the consummation of the ages."
St Therese of Lisieux, who said this, entered the Carmelite convent at age 15 and died at age 24. She is a Doctor of the Church and is the patron saint of missions. Talk about Kairos! .... a moment, or a succession of them, that turn into a cascade. She was the one that said as a small child "I choose all!" and God heard her. In following a Little Way of doing small things with great love, she is an icon for Our Lord's words:

My grace suffices thee; for my power is perfected in weakness.

Pope Benedict wrote:

“I must say that all of us have moments when we can lose heart in the face of the great many things there are to be done and of the limitations of how much we can really do. This is also true of the new Pope. What things should I be doing at this very moment for the Church, with the many problems, many joys, many challenges in regards to the universal Church? Many things come up from day to day and I cannot answer in relation to them all. I must take my part, and do what I can, but I search for the priorities.”
He goes on:

“The time put aside for prayer is not time wasted from our pastoral responsibilities – it is a proper pastoral work to pray for others… It is proper for a pastor that he be a man of prayer, that he stand before the Lord praying for others, even taking the place of others, who perhaps don’t know how to pray, don’t want to pray, don’t find time to pray.”
St Therese wrote:

“I understood that the Church had a heart and that this heart was burning with love. I understood that love comprised all vocations.”
Simple.... not easy, though. I have been struggling with love. Easier to move through the day in routine, easier to follow old patterns and choose things because they are comfortable and convenient, easier to get out of balance and affected by things outside of myself. .

Another Greek word sometimes opposed to kairos ... is metanoia.... a rethinking, a change of self that is somewhat like looking at oneself from outside, or pulling oneself up by one's own shoelaces. Can't easily be done on one's own, and that is understatement! but something that is a key. Prayer is probably an answer here too.

It seems to me that this love, not a feeling but a sort of continual kairos and metanoia, a choosing and a continual converting, is the answer to the difference Our Lord describes in the gospel reading for today, which has been on my mind. It is very closely related to prayer, in a way I wish I could glimpse more clearly than I do.


lissla lissar said...

In one of her books (can't remember which one right now), Madeleine L'Engle used kairos and chronos as opposite terms for clock time, and God's time, or the moments when eternity touches human time.

[i]Men's curiosity searches past and future/And clings to that dimension. But to apprehend/The point of intersection of the timeless/With time, is an occupation for the saint—
/No occupation either, but
something given/And taken, in a lifetime's death in love,
Ardour and selflessness and self-surrender.[i]
-Eliot, again

I think (from one of her books, again) of metanoia as being opposite of paranoia, which is a state of mental not-rightness, suspicion, fear. I like it as deliberate, continual conversion. "If you fall, turn to God and say, 'So I shall always do, whenever You leave me to myself.'" (Paraphrased from Brother Lawrence)

Willa said...

Thanks Lissla, as so often, you extend and clarify my thinking process.

I believe Pope Benedict says something else about this -- your Eliot quote reminded me:

To imagine ourselves outside the temporality that imprisons us and in some way to sense that eternity is not an unending succession of days in the calendar, but something more like the supreme moment of satisfaction, in which totality embraces us and we embrace totality—this we can only attempt.