The dictionary defines the word “epiphany” as: the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi; the festival commemorating this on January 6; a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being; or a moment of sudden revelation or insight. A million times we have said to ourselves, “Where does the time go?” or “That went so fast!” or the classic Latin phrase Tempus fugit, memento mori.
Recently, during the Christmas octave, I was listening to a homily from one of my Dominican brothers, and he said that “Time is not random.” The homily of the mass I attended on January first for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God also dealt with time being allotted by God to each of us for our salvation.
Before entering religious life, never had my daily schedule been so mapped out perfectly, especially dictated by the rising and setting of the sun in the form of the Divine Office. I have now experienced this for over three years. As we celebrate in this Christmas season the entry of the eternal God into time and space, I can tell you it was during this season three years ago that I had the greatest epiphany in my life thus far, or as the definition says, a moment of sudden revelation or insight.
During my novitiate year the single greatest and simplest aspect of the year that I constantly pointed out to my brothers, family, friends, and people I encountered, was that I have never had a year go so fast in my life. Never. It perplexed me greatly at times. However, after mass on New Year’s Day of that I year I shared this with a parishioner, and due to her years of wisdom she said, “That’s because you are enjoying yourself.” I walked backed to the priory knowing I had just been given the answer to this great mystery in my life thus far as a novice—my epiphany, if you will: Yes, I was completely enjoying the novitiate life with all its challenges and blessings! Time sped by then—and now—because of the happiness the Dominican life brings me.
In Matthew’s account of the Visit of the Magi in the second chapter of his Gospel, verse 10 reads: “They were overjoyed at seeing the star.” This verse is just a partial thought, almost a passing comment. The inspired author desires to share with us the Magi’s happiness, their joy at this event.
So let’s take the old adage “Time flies when you’re having fun” in a new light this Epiphany—or perhaps the adage itself can yield a small epiphany for us who reflect upon it. The life of virtue to which Christ invites us and in which he sustains us by his grace is a way of happiness in this life, which is joy, and beatitude in the life to come. So if your life is centered on the practice of Christian virtue, time will seem to go quickly because you are en route for the attainment of perfect happiness, which is eternity with God. By the grace of God I am still happy, and time is still getting faster. I pray the same for you!
Image: Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory