“Be watchful, pray constantly, that you may be worthy to stand before the Son of Man”
This essential Advent theme would, of course, fit any time of the year. Sudden deaths
of people in their prime, of young people, the appearance of cancer in ourselves or a
loved one — all these remind us to live more mindfully, with more awareness of what
lies or lives all around us. In the same context as the opening line Jesus says, “Be on
guard lest your spirits become bloated with indulgence and drunkenness and worldly
cares” (34). We hear often about the good of simplifying our lives, and usually we mean
getting rid of unnecessary possessions, objects. In what we’ve just quoted from Jesus is
reference to another form of this: Be on guard against worldly cares.
We need to be sure of our vision of what is important in life, that we are living for is
clear. The worries and concerns of human life can obscure our vision and our purpose.
A sixteen-year-old with cancer or the loss of a job for those who support a family, these
are legitimate cause for concern and, it is to be hoped, for constant prayer. But worldly
care means our anxiety about keeping up with fashions or the neighbors, our fussing
about the nonessentials of life. These we can profitably forget in order to reduce the
clutter in our lives, to help us focus on what life is really about.
Fr. Don Talafous, OSB, is a monk of Saint John’s Abbey. He is a former university chaplain and theology professor. Among his many talents is the ability to recall the names of hundreds, if not thousands, of alumni whenever and wherever they greet him.