Carpe Diem

Do you remember the movie, Dead Poet’s Society?  I was a teen when it came out, and there was a lot in the film which struck me.  Sometime back, I showed just the beginning of it to my religious ed. class, the part where Robin Williams had his class gather around the trophy cases in the school hallway.  He told them to move in close and listen intently.  Did they hear it?  They moved in closer… Then Williams whispered, “carpe, carpe diem.”  “Seize the day, boys.”  The students were a bit freaked out, then realized it was Williams.  In the end, his message was that life is short.  All those people who won those trophies and were in the photos were long dead.  “Food for worms,” said Williams.

Carpe Diem means seize the day.  Since seeing Dead Poet’s Society for the first time, I’ve thought about this ancient saying from time to time.  There’s wisdom in it.  When I was at Eastern Point Retreat Center a few weeks ago, I was surprised to see a sun dial in the photo above,  mounted on a prominent wall of the old house, facing the ocean, with Carpe Diem carved into the stone.  Those wealthy people who built the house and lived there for many years may have envisioned the words to mean “live it up!”  “Let’s have a party!”  “Tennis, anyone?”  “Yes, I believe I’ll have another…”  Sorry to be a downer, but they’re all long dead.  They may have seized the day, but what was it all about?  I wonder how they envisioned God when they followed the sundial’s movement from morning to dusk.  Hopefully they did and are now enjoying eternal bliss.

How about you?  If you were challenged to seize the day tomorrow, what would you do?  Where would you go? Who would be a part of it?  Where would you find God in it?     Some things to think about over this long weekend, don’t you think?


Which Way To Go?

Summer is a great time to learn something new, or get deeper into an area you want to learn more about.  A group of friends and I are into your second week of The Ignatian Workout by Tim Muldoon.  I’ve read the book before, and knew that this group of friends, who I took through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius last year, were looking for a fresh approach.

Right from the beginning, Muldoon has some wise things to say.  Here’s one quote:

What makes the Spiritual Exercises a helpful guide for us post-moderns is its insistence that we can come to know God by coming to know ourselves better.  Ignatius was a bit of a maverick in his early life… the spiritual practices he worked through were not simply repeating old formulas but, rather, a fresh attempt to make sense of God’s will. (p XXV)


What great thoughts to leisurely discern this summer:   How can I come to know God more?  How can I come to know myself better?  How can I make better sense of God’s will in my life.  I used this image of a footpath to get you thinking about a little journey you might be called to make with my group of friends.  With honesty, ask yourself where you are really going?  Spiritual books like The Ignatian Workout just might help you either stay on track or get back on the right path.  Come, join us in our discernment.






How Can I Keep From Singing?

This past weekend, I had the blessing to make a retreat at Eastern Point Retreat Center in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Once the stately home of a New York Stock Broker, the main house of the Center was built in 1921, and is was created for parties. Big parties. It must have been amazing to be a visitor there during those days. Now, it provides a serene place to spend time, spiritual time. On Saturday morning, the sunrise was magnificent. I wasn’t the only one to notice, as there were quite a few of us out to see the dawn of a new day.

As I sat watching, the song How Can I Keep From Singing? came to mind. I’ve been reflecting on the lyrics for several months, since the funeral of one of the deacons of my parish. It had been years since I last heard it, and it came as a bit of a surprise initially. But then, knowing the wonderful, faith-filled person Deacon Don was, it made perfect sense. It’s gotten me thinking that we don’t sing enough. Of God’s goodness, his mercy, is love, the beauty of his creation.

It’s ours for the taking. Let’s start becoming more aware of it, shall we? That new level of awareness just might lead us to sing.

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation,
I hear the sweet, tho’ far-off hymn
That hails a new creation;

Thro’ all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?

What tho’ my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Saviour liveth;
What tho’ the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;

Since Christ is Lord of heaven and

How can I keep from singing?
I lift my eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;

And day by day this pathway smooths,
Since first I learned to love it,
The peace of Christ makes fresh my

A fountain ever springing;

All things are mine since I am his—
How can I keep from singing?