Sept 2020

How shall we use the time given to us?

Greetings to all faithful readers of this monthly, diocesan, catholic publication: ‘Upon this Rock.’

While Fr. Stuart is on a well-deserved extended break, I will write the Foreword. 

So, please, fear not. I trust you will not mind me standing-in.

May Peace and Goodness fall upon you dear reader. 

I pray that these words will find you all healthy and in good spirits. It is incredible that another month has gone by; here we are with another editorial! I believe that the older you get; the passage of time accelerates. This reminds me of an excerpt in Tolkien’s book: “The Lord of the Rings”:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

This exchange occurs in Book 1, Chapter 2, as Gandalf explains the history of the Ring to Frodo. The “it” to which Frodo refers is the finding of the Ring by Gollum, as well as the return of Sauron. Gandalf’s response to Frodo’s lament is at once heroic and fatalistic. The wizard’s words are heroic because they insist that one must rise to the challenge offered by one’s time. At the same time, however, there is also the suggestion that one is born at a particular time and in a particular place for a certain preordained purpose. The decision is, of course, not one’s own to make; however, Gandalf does imply that it is a decision that is made somewhere—that Gandalf and Frodo’s “time” has been “given” to them. 

J. R. R. Tolkien literary works are widely known, what is less well known is that this fiction of such incredible widespread appeal is infused with the author’s Catholic faith. My personal opinion: Tolkien goes to the heart of the Catholic ethos; whatever timespan of life we may possess, it is to be put into the good service of God and neighbour. This is the quality of life that Tolkien is alluring to. Again, this is my personal opinion.

All this has a crucial bearing in the life circumstances that we are all experiencing today! With our movement curtailed, what else can we do to enrich that “time allotted to us”? Despite how we may feel and the environment that we find ourselves in, we must rise to the occasion, for example spending our time wisely, prudently and generously.

I can anticipate the response: easier said than done! I can most definitely understand that we may have to live through extremely trying times. These can have a most debilitating and alienating effect on us. Goodness, yes, the situation can be most demoralising. Still, I would insist, that the contrary to what Tolkien suggests is far worse.