Now and Then

Father Sebastian McDonald, C.P.
Father Sebastian McDonald, C.P.

A famous Roman author once advised those beginning the pursuit of authorship: not to rush. Rather, he suggested, take the draft of what you have written, place it in a desk drawer, wait a number of months, THEN pull it out again for rereading, and ask: am I satisfied with it NOW: is it ready for publication?

It’s a question of NOW AND THEN: publish now, or, publish then. Some are inclined to do it now and get it over with. Otherwise, it may never get printed. Others, on the other hand, prefer to wait awhile to see if some better way later suggests itself to do what I want to do.

There’s the adage: don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Why? Because delay may be the death-knell of the project. That is, it may never get done if one postpones the project. Better half done than not done at all. Did not Jesus say: “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself” (Mt. 6.34)? Is not “half done better done than not done at all”? Many an opportunity has been lost because of delay. Opportunity only knocks once.

On the other hand, we have heard that haste makes waste. A job half done is better not done at all. Why rush? The opportunity will offer itself again. Haste makes waste. Accidents occur to those ill prepared for what they are about to do. One will live with regrets at rushing into something for which one is not prepared.

 

Now and then. Perhaps we can pair this choice with another pairing: good and evil. When there is a question of doing something good, then likely NOW is preferable to THEN. For a delay in doing something good may result in it never getting done. On the other hand, when it’s a matter of doing something wrong or evil, then what seems preferable and recommended is to delay the doing of it for, when THEN rolls around, we may have had the opportunity to rethink the doing of it. For what is done can never be undone, whereas what has not yet been done can frequently be done later on.

 

A slip of the tongue can cause untold harm and grief; it occurs in an instant, and may take a lifetime to undo. But, by the same token, the omission of a “thank you” to a stranger, likely never to be met again, for a helping hand he or she offered in time of personal need may be regretted over a lifetime.

During this Pentecost season, our minds and hearts turn to the Holy Spirit in the realization that this Spirit of God is at the source of so many “inspirations” that come to us for doing good, and for so many cautions that bedevil us as we toy with temptation. This is the season for renewing our relationship with Him and working in tandem with Him so that we can say with some confidence, as the church in Jerusalem said in its letter to the church in Antioch: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us …”(Acts 15.28).

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Author: CPP

We are a community of laymen and laywomen who, with vowed Passionists, seek to share in the charism of St. Paul of the Cross through prayer, ongoing spiritual formation, and proclamation of the message of Christ Crucified.

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