January 4, 2012 + Set Time Aside


by Rev. Fr. Theodore E. Ziton
from The Word, June 1960

TIME, that precious gift of God . . . how wisely do we use it?  How well do we apportion it? How much do we appreciate it?

Time is so precious a gift that God dispenses it but sparingly as if He were fearful that we waste it or hoard an excessive supply of it. Only the time present belongs to us along with its reserves of potential happiness and joy. We would prove ourselves guilty of ingratitude were we to ignore the value of time and put an ever unrequited hope in the future over which we have little or no power.

Set time aside . . . to enjoy the gift of life. Because so many people fail to appraise the time present, they complicate their lives and deprive it of its natural spontaneity in trying to pry into the future. Do you suppose that He Who gives us our daily bread is at the mercy of the weather or of man’s malice? Should we learn to tread the path of life with our eyes focused on Him, never would our soul age; our eyes would meet incessant marvels upon witnessing His evident solicitude on our behalf. Indeed, life would prove a thrilling spiritual adventure if only we took time out to truly enjoy it.

Set time aside . . . to get acquainted with yourself. It is strange how those folks who are constantly working for their own personal interest are precisely the very people who lavish time on all sorts of things - business, sports, arts, amusements  - and yet never spend a minute with themselves. They are unable to remain a single moment face to face with themselves. Hence they soon grow old and sour. Now pay a visit to a monastery or cloister or seminary and chat with the monks or seminarians; I’ll wager you will be amazed at the youthfulness of their soul, even though some be of an advanced age.

Set aside time . . . for love. Much time is given to love when one’s heart begins to ignite a spark in the inner recesses of the soul. And yet this is the time when one least understands the meaning of love. But when affection has been fanned into a flame, when it has been put to a test and found unquenchable, odd as it may seem, then it is that we become most forgetful of it. Why do you deny your love to those who live for nothing else besides that love? You claim it is evident that you love your family since you toil and save for them; but why not simply express this love outright now and then? Why not take the time and prove it now before there is no time for them? Then and only then will you realize your toil.

Set time aside . . . for prayer. We find time for most everything save for that which alone really matters. Just pause for a moment and think: we fail to find time to express a word of thanks to Him Who actually measures our span of life on earth. He could have made provision for a law of nature that would have compelled us to set aside a definite period of time each day in His exclusive service, much as He created our physical constitution with a natural and recurrent need of sleep. He rather chose to trust in our good faith and generosity. However, we forget that God rewards us a hundredfold, even here below, for the time we dedicate to His service. Therein lies the explanation of our neglect in regard to this duty.

Set time aside . . . for great things are done in silence. It is said that no great things are accomplished with noise. We see how nature does her greatest achievements in silence. The hour before dawn is still the dark silence of the night, but when we look again it is day - the transition from night to day has come without noise. So it is with God’s work. On retreat, away from the din and clamour of the world, God speaks to the quiet heart. At no time does He speak so clearly and so understandingly as during the time which you set aside to think things out.

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St. Gregory of Nyssa - January 10

Troparion of St. Gregory, Tone 3

Thou hast shown forth thy watchfulness and wast a fervent preacher of godliness: by the wisdom of thy teachings thou dost gladden the Church's faithful. Righteous Father Gregory, entreat Christ our God to grant us His great mercy.

Kontakion of St. Gregory, Tone 1

Watchful with the eyes of thy soul and a vigilant shepherd for the world, with wisdom and thy fervent intercession thou didst drive off heretics like wolves, keeping thy flock unharmed.