Inevitably, Lent makes me Rome-sick.  There’s something about spending the holiest time of the year in the Eternal City that changes your future Lents forever.

The interesting thing about my memories of 2005 and 2008 is that many of them are tied up in liturgical events, be it John Paul II’s death on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday or celebrating Palm Sunday with Pope Benedict at St. Peter’s.   Because of this, there are often two days that bring the memories flooding back to me — the date and the feast.

This past Friday, for example, I was eating a Lean Cuisine microwave meal for lunch (Parmesan-crusted fish) and was somehow reminded of the first week in Lent two years ago, when I was sitting in a chipper in Swaffham, England eating real fish and chips.  Was last week the two-year anniversary of that adventure through Norfolk?  Well, yes… and no.  Lent fell earlier that year, during the first week of February.

I’ll go through a similar experience when the 5th Sunday of Lent rolls around, and I’ll want to celebrate the two year anniversary of Mass with Pope Benedict — but it really happened on March 9th, not March 21st (when the 5th Sunday falls this year).

In case you haven’t noticed, though, I like celebrating time liturgically.  I like forming my life around the feasts of the Church.  I think this balance between dates and liturgical feasts is actually a good reflection on the ideas of kairos and cronos.  Lots of much smarter people have written on these two measures of time, and I won’t be able to do it justice.  Basically, cronos refers to the measure of time that comes sequentially– chronologically, if you will. 😉  It is the attempt to measure time using something like the sun, a clock, etc.

Kairos has a different sense.  Whereas cronos measures time, in a quantitative sense, kairos refers more to the quality of time.  Kairos is occasion, a time of great importance, of opportunity, of grand events.

There is more than one way to experience time.

Father Thomas Rosica, in a recent Scripture meditation reminds us, “So often in our individual and community lives, in our various ministries, parishes and daily lives, we simply plod along from day to day, living with a sense of hopelessness, monotony or heaviness. We are locked into a cronos time, and cannot see how God wishes to break through the ordinary moments of life and transform our existence and our history into something extraordinary. … How can our cronos time be transformed into kairos– a real moment of breakthrough and hope, of promise and new possibility?”

At this point in my life, it’s easy to become bogged down with measuring time — I have one more day to finish this lesson I need to teach in thirteen days; I am twenty-six years old and have been out of school for almost two years now; if I want to go back to school I have nine months to take the GRE; my friend is coming to visit me and is landing at the airport 4:45pm; I’d like to make the 5.5 hour trip home soon…

But it’s important to remember that God doesn’t work limited by our cronos. He works within it, and He has sanctified it by coming into the world at a definite moment in cronos, but He is not limited by it.  He sees that lesson I’m going to teach in 13 days right now.  And He sees where I’m going to be in five years.  And He’s there, sanctifying it.

So as I celebrate my “anniversaries” on days almost outside of time, I unite myself to Him, seeing His hand in every event, at every time.

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