Sunday, September 6, 2015


 Today's Term: Punctuality

The Call to Prayer: Be on time
Photo: R. Massaro St. Agnes Church Orrville, Ohio

Punctuality? Really? You may be thinking, what does this have to do with the spiritual life? Well, I think it is a very important part of the spiritual life.  Punctuality may not be one of the most recognized gifts of the Holy Spirit, but it truly is a gift from God.

You may live in a divided household; your spouse may be the punctual one, or perhaps it's the other way around.  Do you know someone who is habitually late for an appointment? Are you the person who tries to keep the other person accountable for being on time?  Yes, it's a challenge for many of us in our busy lives as we try to juggle errands, activities, and appointments.

Think of the many times we rely on the punctuality of another person. We go to our doctor and he's running late. His lack of punctuality causes us stress, unless we have the gift of patience where the lack of punctuality on the part of another does not disturb the calm of our heart.

How many times have we been "run off of the road" by someone who is probably running late for work or an appointment? Their lack of punctuality and their response to it threaten the lives of others on the road. Yes, a lack of punctuality can be dangerous, especially in the spiritual life.

Being punctual for Mass, prayer time, and religious activities says a lot about who we are and the desire we have to be at attention and "ready for service" to the Holy Spirit. In the monastic setting,  the manner of punctuality effects the keeping of the rule. For religious persons, those in monasteries and religious communities must be punctual so that the prayer life of the community is not disrupted. The punctuality of all the members is essential for unity and peace, which reflects the common vision of their charism.

 St. Therese of the Child Jesus is an example of a saint who tried to be punctual. She writes about this in her Story of a Soul. She says that she wanted to be obedient, even in small things. When she was writing her memoirs and heard the bell, the call to prayer, she would stop writing in mid-sentence. That small act of self-denial took great effort on her part until she matured in the virtue of punctuality.

Here is what one of my favorite writers, Fr. Adolphe Tanquerey, in his great work The Spiritual Life says about punctuality:

Punctuality is an integral part of the observance of a rule of life. Not to begin an exercise at the prescribed moment, and that without a reason, already constitutes an act of resistance to grace, which admits of no delays; it is to run the risk of omitting or at least shortening this exercise from lack of time. If it is question of some public exercise of the ministry, a delay often means considerable inconvenience to the faithful; on the part of a teacher lack of punctuality sets before the students a bad example which they are but too prone to follow.

The Spiritual Life. The Very Reverend Adlophe Tanquerey, SS.,D.D.. Society of St. John the Evangelist, Desclee & Co., Imprimatur, Michael J. Curley, Archbishop of Baltimore, May 24, 1930.

When we go to Mass we expect the celebration to begin on time. When the priest is late, we begin to worry that something may be wrong. It gives us spiritual security to know that the Mass is going to take place each day at a specific time. We should make every effort to be on time for Holy Mass.

A lack of punctuality can lead to a greater fault that is hard to cure: procrastination!  Sometimes procrastination is caused by laziness, sometimes it's a state of denial when we find a difficult situation hard to confront, or there is a difficult task we put off over and over again. If we are not careful, this becomes a habit and a way of life in dealing with difficult situations.

Jesus tells us that death comes like a thief in the night. Death will not delay at the prescribed moment. Therefore, we must be vigilant and spread the Gospel without delay. We must be found at all times doing the will of God, so that when death arrives, we are prepared and ready to meet Our Lord face-to-face.

As Secular Carmelites, we are required to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. We should make every effort to keep the designated hours of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. We should be on time for these prayers and say them at the proper hours. Many of us delay these prayers, take shortcuts, then try to make it up later in the day. 

In the spiritual life, we fail many times by being late or even absent from prayer. However, we are very demanding that God be punctual. We want him to answer our prayer, now! Or, at prayer, we think, I'm here, God. Where are You?

Let us pray for each other, that we be punctual, diligent, faithful, and respond quickly to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, OCDS

1 comment:

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Peace be with you and yours.

God bless.