Essays, Theology

Sacramentality of Time and Pastoral Asceticism of Presence

Share
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

“Time is precious.” “My time is valuable.” “Time is money.” “Do you have any free time?” We have commodified time. We “spend time,” “save time,” “make time,” “waste time,” “kill time.” Time is the water we swim in, the air we breathe, and so we take it for granted. We forget that it is granted, that it is entrusted to us as a gift that we are to steward and return to our Giver. We have forgotten that the economy of time is woven tightly together with the economy of salvation, “as if,” in the words of Henry David Thoreau, “you could kill time without injuring eternity.”[1]

Pastoral ministers of the Church, of all people, should know that we are made for eternity—that, though in time, we are not ruled by time. Yet we, too, live under what Charles Hummel calls “the tyranny of the urgent.”[2] Robert J. Wicks, author of Availability: The Challenge and the Gift of Being Present, writes:

Some of us are ‘too available.’ Thus, true availability becomes watered down. We become too busy to pray, too tired to reflect, and, ironically, too stimulated interpersonally to really be present to others.[3]

But, as C.S. Lewis observed, “New men [holy people] will usually seem to have a lot of time: you will wonder where it comes from.”[4] I would add to this that holy people often have a way of making another person feel as though he or she were the only person in the room. In other words, holy people have an ability to be intensely present to the other in a given moment in time. I have a hunch that this capacity comes from a deep awareness of the sacramentality of creation and of time in particular, is rooted in a deeply incarnational worldview, and can be cultivated with practice.

The heart of what I hope to communicate in this essay is actually quite simple, namely, that the living and eternal God desires to be in intimate, dynamic relationship with us and that he is, in fact, constantly revealing and extending himself to us in time. And we, as creatures bestowed with radical freedom, can either ignore or willingly accept the gift of God’s presence and respond with our own total gift of presence. To choose the latter path, as fallen creatures, will require work, and that is where the asceticism of our presence comes in. In this essay, I hope to offer a rich theological grounding for this kind of asceticism, specifically through of the lenses of moral theology and liturgical theology, as well some suggestions on how to practice it.

My own motivation for this project comes partly from my experience of what could be classified as “ministry of presence”: missionary work in Ecuador with the ecclesial movement Heart’s Home in a nursing home, a psychiatric hospital, and with children, and my summer spent with patients with terminal illnesses in Argentina. These experiences also allowed me to observe different cultural approaches to time (e.g., the more punctual habits of North Americans and the more fluid approach to time in Central and South America). I also bring to this project my own appreciation for ordered time, such as the rhythm of the Liturgy of the Hours and the color coordination of my iCal. But I am also motivated by what I see as broader societal problems with our approach to time. We hear often about ministerial burnout. We tend to glorify busy-ness and wear it as a badge of our dedication or even our self worth. This often leads us to be physically present without being truly present. We treat time as a precious commodity rather than a precious gift. And, at the University of Notre Dame especially, students often struggle with over-programming and “FOMO”—“fear of missing out.”

I would be remiss in beginning a treatise on time and presence in ministry without first offering some background about the term “ministry of presence.”[5] In the pastoral world, the phrase is referenced most frequently in sources about the very young and the very old. Children, teenagers, and those in nursing homes or palliative care facilities seem to be the primary demographics thought to be particularly in need of presence. But the phrase is also associated with chaplaincy positions other than hospital chaplaincy, such as police, military, and university chaplaincy. The term is often used interchangeably with the word “availability,” and is often linked with “accompaniment,” “journeying” or ”walking with,” the concept of “being” versus “doing,” and “compassion” in the sense of joining in another’s experience, and has been described in a variety of ways:

  • a sacramental faith presence for others, animated by a close relationship with Christ;
  • partnership with the presence of God;
  • “the promise of the Presence of God”;
  • being with others and paying attention to the quality of that being with”;
  • “becoming aware of this sacred presence revealed in human relationships, reflecting on God within the ordinary events of life, and helping the community to be aware of God’s presence”; and
  • “being available and at the disposal of the other person with all the self for that period of time.”[6]

Having thus defined “ministry of presence,” we can now begin to look at it through the lens of moral and liturgical theology.

Moral Theology

As one Catholic Encyclopedia states, “Moral theology [consists of] those doctrines which discuss the relations of man and his free actions to God and his supernatural end, and propose the means instituted by God for the attainment of that end.”[7] In other words, all moral theology is founded on the fact that we do not make ourselves or the laws by which we are to live. And so, we must start with the theology of creation, the sacramentality of which is the foundation for our moral responsibility towards it.

Sacramentality of Creation

Jean Corbon says that in the beginning, in the act of creation, “God experiences his first ‘kenosis.’”[8] By creating the world, God empties his very self into his creation. Corbon goes on to say:

Our God does not simply do this or do that, like the First Cause whom the philosophers speak of as God; rather he gives himself in everything that is, and whatever is is because he gives himself.[9]

Creation is an act of ecstatic love, ecstasy meaning literally to “stand outside.” As David Fagerberg puts it, “If we dare say so, creation is God being beside himself with love.”[10] So creation is a kenotic, or self-emptying, act.

Guisto de’ Menabuoi, Creazione (1376–1378); Photo: Yukio Sanjo; CC-BY-SA-3.0.

A “sacrament” in the broadest sense is the sign of something sacred and hidden (the Greek word is mysterion). So in this sense it can be said that the whole world is sacramental, because it reveals and communicates the hidden God to us. In a lecture entitled “World as Sacrament,” Alexander Schmemann stated that the revelatory character of God’s creation means that the world, both as cosmos and as time and history, “is an epiphany of God,” revealing his presence and power.[11] In light of this, Schmemann also holds that “the Fall of Creation means the fall of the human being ‘from the awareness that God is in all’”; in other words, in the Fall, “the sacramental sense of the world was lost.”[12] The remedy, then, is the recovery of this sacramental sense of the world. St. Augustine also echoes this throughout his writing. Before his conversion, Augustine flirted with Manichaeism, which espoused the belief that the world of light was trapped in the darkness of the material world, thus making the world itself bad. As he converted to Christianity, his writing began to reflect the opposite view. He argued that knowing God does not mean turning away from the things of this world, but turning toward them. As Charles Mathewes states, “Augustine’s thought, properly understood, turns the reader toward a more rigorous and serious attention to the world as it really exists, not as we would like it to exist.”[13] Thus, our project here is one of turning towards creation so that we can see it for what it is: a sacrament of God’s ecstatic love.

Sacramentality of Time

So what does all this have to do with time? Well, we often do not think of time as a created reality, yet we speak of things that happened “in the beginning of time” or what will happen at “the end of time.” And if time, like space, has a beginning and an end, it is finite, and therefore created. Gregory of Nyssa argues that matter and time were created simultaneously. And both space and time, he says, are fundamental characteristics of being created.[14]

This seems clear from the first book of Genesis: “God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1), and he also created days. He created a rhythm of creation, of morning and evening, light and dark. After creating the cosmos, “on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done” (Gen 2:2–3, NIV). If time is also part of God’s work of creation, if it too is sacramental, it is not difficult to see why we must take seriously our responsibility to be good stewards of time.

Moral Responsibility

If world is indeed a gift and sacrament of God himself, and not just dead, raw material, then there is a certain way one ought to treat it. In his 1987 encyclical on the social concerns of the Church, Pope St. John Paul II reminded us that:

The dominion granted to humanity by the Creator is not an absolute power, nor can one speak of a freedom to “use and misuse,” or to dispose of things as one pleases. The limitation imposed from the beginning by the Creator himself and expressed symbolically by the prohibition not to “eat of the fruit of the tree” (cf. Gen 2:16–17) shows clearly enough that, when it comes to the natural world, we are subject not only to biological laws but also to moral ones, which cannot be violated with impunity. (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, §34)

In the first chapters of Genesis, Schmemann affirms, “we find a clear statement of the sacramental character in the world. God made the world, and then man; and he gave the world to man to eat and drink.”[15] But then he adds, “The world was God’s gift to us, existing not for its own sake but in order to be transformed, to become life, and so to be offered back as man’s gift to God.”[16] We already can see hints of how humanity’s moral responsibility toward creation is connected to the liturgy. Schmemann says, “Man was created as a priest: the world was created as the matter of a sacrament.”[17] Therefore, our moral responsibility toward creation—or, to recall our definition of moral theology, “the means instituted by God for the attainment of [our supernatural] end”—is to receive God’s gift of himself, cultivate it and make it fruitful, and return it to God.

Stewardship of Time

There are a number of Catholic Social Teaching documents that help us see what this stewardship of time looks like on the ground. Evangelium Vitae, for example, stresses the fact that the rhythm of life should be respected, especially when it comes to issues of birth and death. John Paul II says that our “supernatural vocation,” that is, our vocation to eternity, “reveals the greatness and the inestimable value of human life even in its temporal phase. Life in time, in fact, is the fundamental condition . . . of human existence . . . which will reach its full realization in eternity” (Evangelium Vitae , §2). The document makes clear that the rhythm of life and death preexists human beings, who cannot pretend to be its authors.

In addition, Catholic Social Teaching documents frequently address this stewardship of time as it regards labor and the dignity and rights of workers. In Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII emphasized the priority of labor over capital, a concept repeated by John Paul II ninety years later in Laborem Excercens in his articulation of “the primacy of man over things” (Laborem Excercens, §12). In other words, people who provide labor can never be treated in a way that places efficiency or productivity above their well-being. Leo XIII firmly condemns “the cruelty of men of greed, who use human beings as mere instruments for money-making” and affirms that human beings are limited by nature, and their “strength is developed and increased by use and exercise, but only on condition of due intermission and proper rest” (Rerum Novarum, §42). Therefore, “daily labor . . . should be so regulated as not to be protracted over longer hours than strength admits. How many and how long the intervals of rest should be must depend on the nature of the work, on circumstances of time and place, and on the health and strength of the workman” (RN §42). Ultimately, a worker “ought to have leisure and rest proportionate to the wear and tear of his or her strength, for waste of strength must be repaired by cessation from hard work” (RN §42). Regarding this question of efficiency, I am reminded of a friend’s experience at the Catholic Worker in South Bend: when she was trying to decide whether to sit with the guests a little longer or go make sure the dishes got done quickly, she was told, “Efficiency is not our highest value here.”

Taking the conversation around efficiency further, Michael Nagler, whose scholarly work focuses on war and peace, speaks of a “mysterious connection between speed, fragmentation, and violence.”[18] He argues that “what causes, or allows, a human being to do inhuman actions” is this sense of a crisis situation with no other option and the need to do something now; the remedy is to discipline the mind, to choose “responsiveness over violence.”[19] He writes:

An undisciplined mind is the most dangerous kind of loose cannon. Whoever owns such a mind will feel insecure no matter what situation you put him or her in and will spread insecurity to all those around, which in course of time can become the mass insecurity known as war.[20]

When we lead with efficiency or speed as our highest value, human life can be trampled in the process. And while we may have an internal sense of this connection between speed and violence, how often do we still approach even ministry in a way that places efficiency over people? How does our desire for efficiency and productivity turn into actions that are subtly violent, or that treat others as anything less than full human persons—as mysteries?

When Christians rest, it has a purpose, for Christians do not waste time; they sanctify time.

We can contrast the efficient mindset with Ignatian discernment, which recommends refraining from making a decision in a time of crisis or desolation. We can recall the prayer of Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin which begins, “Above all, trust in the slow work of God…”[21] Nevertheless, it takes a lot of energy to fight this ‘need for speed.’ For we often feel slowness as a waste of time. This is where God’s own mysterious rest on the seventh day of creation comes in. For human beings, the commandment to “keep holy the Sabbath day” mirrors God’s own rest. Rerum Novarum reminds us that there is a distinction between resting and merely vegging out (though not exactly in those words):

The rest from labor is not to be understood as mere giving way to idleness; . . . as many would have it to be; but . . . rest (combined with religious observances) disposes man to forget for a while the business of his everyday life, to turn his thoughts to things heavenly, and to the worship which he so strictly owes to the eternal Godhead. (RN §41)

In other words, when Christians rest, it has a purpose, for Christians do not waste time; they sanctify time.

In a way, we can look at keeping holy the Sabbath (as well as other ascetical practices of rest and presence) not only as a moral obligation and one of the Ten Commandments, but also as a form of non-violent protest against the “tyranny of the urgent.” In his book Sabbath as Resistance, Walter Brueggemann claims that to keep holy the Sabbath is a form of resistance to anxiety, coercion, exclusivism, and multitasking.[22] We could add to this list: ministerial burnout, the glorification of busy, etc. By intentionally adopting ascetical practices that reorient our behaviors toward time, we put into practice our trust that 1) God gives us everything we need to carry out his mission, including enough time, and 2) that God is revealing himself to us, that he is concretely present with us, in that time. And this leads us into our liturgical lens.

Liturgical Theology

As the title of this essay suggests, the theological discussion around the sacramentality of time has something to do with presence. I claim that this is more than just an etymological connection between “the present” and “presence.” Rather, it has to do first with God’s sacramental presence with us in time, and second, with our own response of presence to God and others.

God’s presence with us

If the act of creation was God’s first kenosis, his first gift of himself, then his second kenosis, the Incarnation, was the sacramental sign of his presence par excellence. When the eternal God entered the created world and became flesh, it was the “advent of eternity into time.”[23] In ancient Greece there was a great philosophical debate about the eternity of God. On the one hand, there was the “everlasting” interpretation, which saw eternity as a duration in which eternal things exist at all times, and on the other hand, there was the “timeless” interpretation, which proposed that eternal things are timeless—they exist, but at no times. Plato seemed to say that eternity is a category that has nothing at all to do with time, but he also wondered if perhaps time was “the moving image of eternity.”[24] It was ultimately Plotinus who resolved the ambiguities left by Plato and became extremely influential for Christian theology with his notion of an eternal Now that coexists with all earthly nows. Augustine then popularized this essentially Neoplatonic idea in support of God’s timeless eternity, which is both immutable (unchanging) and simple. In this sense, God, as a timeless being, is fully present, in contrast to a temporal being whose presence changes over time.

That this timeless God would enter the realm of created time was inconceivable. Scripture scholar John Meier says that the scandal of the phrase “the Word (logos) became flesh” was not that God became man, but that God became man—that the timeless being who is beyond measured time entered the realm of becoming; that the immutable God entered the world of constant change. As Corbon says, “In Jesus alone does God become event for man.”[25]

God so desired to give us his presence that he became Emmanuel. Not only that, but the Gospel of Matthew ends with the words of Jesus: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Mt 28:20). Therefore, this second kenosis is a continuing kenosis. God is present to us 1) in the sacramentality of creation, 2) in the person of Jesus Christ, and 3) now continues his sacramental presence with us in time in the Eucharist through the power of the Holy Spirit. And this is our model for ministerial presence.

Our Presence to God

I stated at the outset that this essay was about God’s presence to us and our presence to God and others. The gift of God’s presence in creation requires human acceptance. Corbon writes:

The Father gives himself but who receives him? His word is given, but who answers? His Spirit is poured out, but not yet shared. Creation is pure gift but one that still awaits acceptance.[26]

Jesus Christ was the only human being to ever accept this gift and respond perfectly. The liturgy is the celebration of this perfect human acceptance of God’s perfect gift, performed by Jesus Christ on behalf of all of humanity. This is what Fagerberg calls “our synergistic ascent.”[27] We could also call it our cooperation with God’s loving design.

God gives us everything we need to carry out his mission, including enough time, and … God is revealing himself to us, that he is concretely present with us, in that time.

Thus, our way of being present to our eternal God’s entrance into concrete moments in time is to be aware of it and readily receive it. And this does not mean just receiving the Eucharist, for, as Robert Taft says, “The purpose of all Christian liturgy is to express in a ritual moment that which should be the basic stance of every moment of our lives.”[28] With a nod to Dr. Fagerberg, I refer to this basic stance as “lived liturgy,” which is then expressed, literally “pressed out” into ritualized form in the liturgical rite of the Mass. Schmemann states that because we tend to focus on Sacraments with a capital S, we have come to think of only the matter of those Sacraments (bread, water, wine, for example) as being sacramental. He says, “Theorizing about isolated sacramental acts,” that is, on the capital S Sacraments, “we lost the sacramental sense in general.”[29] He says that God chose the matter of the capital S sacraments because those things already “stand close to the veil that separates our world, our daily experience form God’s life.”[30] In the words of Sr. Wendy Beckett, “God is always coming to us, as totally as we can receive him, but from every side. He comes in ‘life,’ just as it is. The as-it-isness is precisely how he comes. If we look for him in certain patterns or forms, we only receive a fraction.”[31] This requires a keen awareness, an intimate relationship with God, and a constant self-emptying. “More enslaving than our occupation,” says Henri Nouwen, “are our preoccupations. To be preoccupied means to fill our time and place long before we are there. . . . It is a mind filled with ‘ifs.’”[32] Or, in the words of Robert Wicks, “The goal is to avoid being so busy carrying inappropriate burdens that we don’t have a free hand to carry the burdens that are meant for us.”[33]

Photo: Charles Clegg; CC-BY-SA-2.0.

Ministers especially must train themselves to be present to God in the as-it-isness. For as Wicks says, “if we are not fully open to the mystery of life ourselves, how can we expect to help others with their lives? How can we expect to be open, to be available, to God?”[34] If we are to proclaim God’s presence in this world which so desperately needs him, if our presence is to be a sign of the promise of God’s presence with us, then we must truly believe that God’s presence is being unfolded in the world today and seek it, “lest we behave as those in the book of Acts who stood around looking up at the sky for God while missing the Spirit who was filling the very space in which they stood (Acts 1:1).”[35]

For, paradoxically, this is how God ordained it: it is precisely by being present to others in time as temporal creatures that we can begin to see the subtle movements of eternity.

Our Presence to Others

For ministers, this presence to others is incarnational (physical or at least somehow tangible presence), Eucharistic (nourishing, sustaining, life-giving), sacramental (a sign of God’s presence), and kenotic (self-emptying, self-giving). Our own ability to be present rests on the deep belief in God’s presence and his desire to reveal himself to us in every moment. With the advent of eternity into time in the person of Christ, we are given a new understanding of time. Eternity entered into time once and promised to remain with us always; as a result, we can more powerfully experience these moments of eternity in time. Many people in general and ministers in particular have had encounters in which time seemed suspended. And just as God’s presence with us in the Eucharist leads to communion, so does a Eucharistic ministerial presence lead to communion with those to whom we minister.

Pastoral Applications

For ministers, the ability to be good stewards of time and to be fully present to the reality in front of us in ministry requires a reorientation. It requires the practice of asceticism (from the Greek askesis, which often refers to athletic training), which is a form of spiritual training for us fallen creatures. To assist in this task, I will conclude by tapping into the rich tradition of ascetical practice in our Church’s history in order to offer some concrete examples of practices that pastoral ministers can adopt to help exercise the muscles of stewardship of time and become more perfect witnesses to, and sacraments of, God’s presence in the world. I will address this section in two parts: first time, then presence, as I believe that a proper stewardship of time is for the sake of presence.

Time

First, we must focus on recovering an asceticism of time. This is different from time management. Asceticism of time is not about how I can fit in the most of what I want, but about how I empty myself or capacitate myself to better receive the gift of time given to me by my Creator in order to give it back to him. In an article called “An Asceticism of Time,” James Whitehead writes, “Christian time management, as an asceticism, will always be understood as a response to grace, to the invitation to become less scattered and more aware of the Present already there.”[36]

It is precisely by being present to others in time as temporal creatures that we can begin to see the subtle movements of eternity.

The key to a good stewardship of time is not necessarily assessing how long certain tasks take you and what you can fit in, or even about prioritizing which things are most important to you. Rather, we must assess which uses of our time have the most to do with what we see as our vocation, our deepest identity. The following approach to this task comes from the aforementioned article by James Whitehead:

  • Recognize how you concretely spend your time.
  • Categorize your uses of time (e.g., time for work, time alone, time with others).
  • Judge your satisfaction with the balance.
  • Classify your activities:
    A = activities most central to who you are and what you seem called to do, most definitive of your vocation;
    B = activities which are important but do not enjoy the same central significance in your life;
    C = chores, or things that “have to get done” but are less definitive of your career or vocation.
  • Reorganize your schedule and activities based on these classifications.
  • When you are faced with a conflict, rank the conflicting activities and ask which is most central to your vocation.

The goal of this exercise is clarification and recovery of one’s own agency. Do you experience compulsion or feel forced to spend your time in a certain way? Do you make choices freely? Do your decisions come from a place of responsiveness or violence? This exercise is not about limiting yourself, but accepting who you are and what God is calling you to do in humility.

At first, this may seem unsatisfying as an answer to the grand question of how to be good stewards of time, but it would be a mistake to prescribe a detailed universal schedule for how individuals should use their time. Instead, tools for personal discernment are needed. It would also be a mistake for individuals to prescribe for themselves a certain routine and fully rest in that. Such a practice can result in complacency. Truly being present is about following the Holy Spirit (informed by moral theology and openness to grace), discerning what is and isn’t essential, and reassessing at certain intervals or moments in life. If we’re doing this right, we should be in a continual state of discernment of how to be both generous and just with our time. As Scripture reminds us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Eccl 3:1).

It is also important to remember that there is an unavoidable tension between fluidity and structure when it comes to stewarding time, and this too requires constant discernment and prudence. Sometimes God will be calling you to let go of your control of your schedule and be flexible, and other times he will be calling you to set boundaries and remain faithful to the task to which he has called you. Ultimately, these are decisions that individuals make in relationship with God, and it is one’s knowledge of God’s presence that will inform those decisions.

Presence

What follow are suggestions for how to practice presence. Some of these might seem very basic, but sometimes the simplest answers are the most profound.

Prayer

Prayer in itself is totally against the idea of efficiency or productivity. It is “useless” but is also the most foundational element of being able to have a level of intimacy with God where you notice his presence in your life more easily. To those practicing presence the context of ministry, Wicks says, “To be really available to others is to open our hearts to them while looking for the Lord in their midst. To do this we don’t bring ourselves and our busyness: we bring the awareness of God that we can only receive in prayer; it is in the forefront of our commitment.”[37] So prayer itself is a sort of resistance against the tyranny of the urgent. A structured rhythm helps with this, as found in the Liturgy of the Hours, or prayer in the morning or before bed. The Liturgy of the Hours in particular can be helpful because it punctuates one’s day and orders and sanctifies time.

Sabbath & Retreats

Given the emphasis that many Catholic Social Teaching documents place on keeping the Sabbath holy, we really ought to take a look at how we treat Sundays and more extended pauses from work. These are ways to stop the structured, normal flow of activity and give us the opportunity to turn our thoughts toward heavenly things and think anew.

Sacraments

Liturgy is the moment when we step into the eternal, ongoing liturgy, receiving God’s very self in the Eucharist. Confession, as well, is an ascetical practice of emptying and making oneself available for presence.

Scripture

Reading and meditating upon Scripture (especially in the form of lectio divina) is a way of being present to the Word of God and being open and available to listen and receive God. In the four stages of lectio divinalectio, meditatio, oratio, contemplatio (reading, meditation, prayer, contemplation)—we slowly start to move from thinking about the passage toward letting go of our thinking mind and our control, and we let ourselves simply be in the presence of God.

Marian Devotion

After Jesus, Mary is the ultimate model of presence, throughout Jesus’s life and especially at the foot of the Cross. While there are many Marian devotions in existence, the Rosary comes to mind as perhaps the most common.

Eucharistic Adoration

Eucharistic Adoration is time to just be in God’s presence. It is also a way of practicing what I would call “beholding” God and beholding his mysterious presence in the ordinary things of life. I think of beholding as attention with reverence, love, and awe, which is exactly the type of attention and presence we should have toward those to whom we minister.[38]

Technology

In today’s world we need to be careful about making sure we are present to reality and not virtual reality. Somewhat paradoxically, technology itself can sometimes help us with this. For example, there is an computer app called “Time Out” which fades one’s computer screen at certain intervals, and forcing you to look up, remember where you are, what you’re doing, and remind yourself that you are in God’s presence. It’s just long enough to take a couple of breaths and say a “Glory Be,” and remind yourself that you are working for God and then return to your work.

Regardless of the ascetic practices we adopt, we should view them as concrete reminders of the deeply sacramental nature of God’s presence with us and as sources of continued inspiration to practice presence, or as Robert Wicks says, “to develop an attitude of openness and alertness in our interaction with others which is based on only one thing: the desire to look for and bring Christ everywhere.”[39]

Featured Photo: briandeadly; CC-BY-ND-2.0.

[1] Henry David Thoreau, Walden. Chapter 1-A.

[2] Charles E. Hummel, Freedom from Tyranny of the Urgent (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997).

[3] Robert J. Wicks, Availability: The Challenge and the Gift of Being Present (Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2015), x.

[4] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers, 2001), 294.

[5] I wish to make a quick note here that the scope of this essay will be limited primarily to pastoral ministers in the Roman Catholic Church, although I recognize that most of what I will say applies to all Christians. This in turn is not to say that non-Christian people cannot practice being present to others, but the quality and form of presence I speak of here is deeply rooted in and modeled after the presence of God the Father with humanity in the Person of Jesus Christ and through his Holy Spirit.

[6] Neil Holm, “Toward a Theology of the Ministry of Presence in Chaplaincy” in Journal of Christian Education 52.1 (2009), 7–22.

[7] Augustinus Lehmkuhl, “Moral Theology” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 14 (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912). Accessed May 2, 2016.

[8] Jean Corbon, The Wellspring of Worship, trans. Matthew J. O’Connell (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005), 33.

[9] Ibid., 32.

[10] David W. Fagerberg, On Liturgical Asceticism (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2013), 5.

[11] Alexander Schmemann, Church, World, Mission: Reflections on Orthodoxy in the West (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1979), 202.

[12] Ibid., 223.

[13] Charles Mathewes, “A Worldly Augustinianism: Augustine’s Sacramental Vision of Creation” in Augustinian Studies 41.1 (2010), 335.

[14] Alexander L. Abecina, “Time and Sacramentality in Gregory of Nyssa’s Contra Eunomium” in Journal of Religious History (Strathfield, NSW: St Paul’s Publications, 2013), 586–7.

[15] Schmemann, Church, World, Mission, 223.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Michael N. Nagler, The Search for a Nonviolent Future: A Promise of Peace for Ourselves, Our Families, and Our World (Novato, CA: New World Library, 2004), 206.

[19] Ibid., 204.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Michael Harter, ed. Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits (Chicago, IL: Loyola Press, 2004), 102.

[22] Walter Brueggemann, Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014).

[23] Clemena Antonova, Space, Time, and Presence in the Icon: Seeing the World with the Eyes of God (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2010), 134.

[24] Ibid., 118.

[25] Corbon, The Wellspring of Worship, 46.

[26] Ibid., 32.

[27] Fagerberg, On Liturgical Asceticism, 9.

[28] David W. Fagerberg, Theologia Prima: What is Liturgical Theology? (Chicago, IL: Hilenbrand Books, 2004), 17.

[29] Schmemann, Church, World, Mission, 220

[30] Ibid., 222.

[31] John Cameron, ed. Magnificat (March 2016), vol. 17., no. 13 (Yonkers, NY: Magnificat Press, 2016), 126.

[32] Henri J. M. Nouwen, Making All Things New (New York, NY: Harper and Row, 1981), 25.

[33] Wicks, Availability: The Challenge and the Gift of Being Present, 82.

[34] Ibid., 40.

[35] Ibid., 62.

[36] James D. Whitehead, “An Asceticism of Time” in Review for Religious (January 1980), vol. 39, no. 1 (St. Louis, MO), 3–17.

[37] Wicks, Availability: The Challenge and the Gift of Being Present, 80.

[38] See Rev. Thierry de Roucy, “To Love as the Eucharist Loves.”

[39] Wicks, Availability: The Challenge and the Gift of Being Present, 56.

Katherine Infantine

Katie Infantine is a theology teacher at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, Indiana.