Crossing thresholds into God’s time

ORLANDO| Forget about time, fall in love with the Creator and do it today. That powerful, yet simple message flowed through the 2019 Orlando Liturgical Conference at the Hilton Orlando August 22-24.

Father Ricky Manalo, C.S.P., keynote speaker and composer of many well-known Catholic hymns, spoke of the concept of chronos time, man’s time on earth, versus kairos time, time spent with God on our journey to eternal life. Think of chronos as time spent in the rat race, rushing from meeting to meeting, trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. Kairos time is that carefree, timeless space when you feel you could sit and enjoy God’s sunset forever or listen to the waves crashing on the shore while your children play nearby. “One of our biggest social sins is a lack of time,” shared Manalo. “Think about it. No time for family, friends, exercise, leisure. When we enter the church, we enter Christian time… Kairos is that space where there is no time. There is no beginning and end.”

Furthermore, it is about God in the here and now. Manalo shared perhaps one of the most important words we proclaim in the Mass is “today” or hodie in Latin. “The most important readings we have talk about the words today or now throughout the liturgical year. Easter Sunday, the most popular hymn (Jesus Christ is Risen Today)… the whole season is kairos time. We do not say Jesus Christ was risen 2,000 years ago. We sing Jesus Christ is risen today… It’s a living memory. It’s a living sacrifice.”

Bishop Shawn McKnight, visiting from the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri, reminded the faithful, “We have to freely respond to the offer of grace… Looking at what God has done for us and trusting in His goodness, His kindness… No matter what life throws at us, we have the grace and the ability to say, ‘Jesus, I trust in you.’”

The notion that God is everywhere at all times carried through each educational track for all types of ministers: lectors, musicians, religious educators, and more. Father Anthony Aarons, diocesan director of spiritual development of San Pedro Spiritual Development Center, led one of the first breakout sessions titled “Leading God’s People into Prayer.” To be successful worship leaders, Father Aarons insisted people must know God, know self and strive to know their neighbor.

The process cannot be rushed because as Father Aarons so eloquently said, “you’re dealing with eternal issues, rather than everyday life. If you start boxing them (the faithful) in, it means you’re no longer open to what God will do through you.” True worship leaders will set aside both ego and their watch to make sure others grow in their relationship with God. “Every call is a call to die,” he said. “Why did Jesus die? Jesus died because he engaged with the people. He knew their hurts. He knew their pains and he was trying to relieve that… as we seek to conform ourselves to Christ, it means that there is a certain amount of dying.”

Father Blake Britton of St. Mary Parish in Rockledge echoed those thoughts in his presentation on sacrifice, thanksgiving, communion and mission. “This is the primary characteristic of liturgy. It is a sacrifice before anything else,” he said. “Before it’s a meal, before it’s a celebration, before anything – it’s a sacrifice. Meaning you’re bringing back into communion of love with the Father.” And as Father Britton explains, “that love is part of the cosmic liturgy, the eternal exchange of love that takes place between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit always.”

When we participate in liturgy, we participate in this sacrifice; we are joined to God and live within His Word. Father Manalo asked, “Is it my Mass? Is it our choir? Is it my voice? Cantors, lectors, is it you who proclaim or is it Christ who proclaims through you? Because when you enter that space without thinking of it, that’s kairos time. And then, even more difficult, if you can transmit it to the assembly, it’s kairos time.”

Special to Jennifer Drow of the Florida Catholic September 04, 2019