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Column: Wow, it’s July: ‘Festina Lente’

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. he has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. he has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

“Hey, Father, how to you pronounce Uh-vun-gel…”

This question was asked by a nervous Knight of Columbus before Mass on Mother’s Day weekend. He was scheduled to make an announcement about a special collection the Knights were taking up for moms in crisis pregnancies. The phrase he was trying to pronounce was “Evangelium Vitae,” the 1995 encyclical from the late Pope John Paul II.

“Oh, that’s Latin,” I replied, as the poor guy pulled out a pen to write down how to say it correctly. “It’s pronounced, ‘The Gospel of Life.’ Don’t worry about the Latin!”

The relief on the guy’s face made me laugh.

With that in mind, please forgive me for throwing a Latin phrase your way: “Festina Lente.” Those words appeared on the family crest of Titus, an emperor of ancient Rome, and explained the meaning of the symbol inscribed on coins during his reign:

a dolphin wound around an anchor. The anchor “represented delay and unchanging conviction. The dolphin was regarded as the swiftest and most mercurial creature of the sea. Together they symbolized the failure that comes from rushing into something, and the failure that is the result of hesitation or undue caution.” (Found in the revised and expanded edition of “The Sower’s Seeds,” by Brian Cavanaugh, TOR.)

But you’re still wondering: What’s up with that Latin phrase? “Festina Lente” means “Hasten Slowly.” In other words, find a balance between wait- ing too long (anchor) and acting too quickly (dolphin).

Those are good words to ponder as we turn the calendar to July and enter into the second part of 2012. This heat wave we’re presently experiencing is an opportunity to find a cool spot where you can sit and ponder for a bit. What has the year been like so far? Is it all you hoped it would be? Are you pleased with where you are?

An effective way to evaluate things is to pull out your New Year’s resolu- tions and reread them. (You did make some, right?) You’ve had half a year to put them into practice. Are they still realistic? Should some be abandoned? Have new issues or dreams come up that need to be included? Remember those words: “Festina Lente.” Keep pressing forward, keep improving, but do it thoughtfully.

At this midpoint of the year, consider the following story:

One day, a little boy asked his par- ents, “How do wars break out? How are they declared?”

The father, who was very learned in economic matters, started talking about wheat, oil, and all the things that divide the world. The mother, though, thought those things were too complicated, so she interrupted, “Here, let me explain it so he can understand.”

As she began to speak, the father got angry, and a loud argument erupted. This so upset the little boy, that he put his hands over his ears, squeezed his eyes shut and cried, “Please, please stop! Stop, Mom and Dad! Now I know exactly how wars begin.” (Adapted from Anthony Castle’s “A Treasure of Quips, Quotes and Anecdotes from Preachers and Teachers.”)

More often than not, we look outside ourselves for someone or something to blame when things in our world are a mess. As the story above shows so clearly, often the problem is right at home. Instead of looking to solve — or complaining about — the huge problems of the world, it’s usually much more productive to start the work of improvement right at home.

That’s the purpose of New Year’s resolutions. Sadly, if they are even made at all, they’re quickly forgotten and usually joked about the following New Year’s Eve. Let’s not let that happen again.

A year ago, I wrote about a time management tip that I’d found really useful: Restart your day at 2 p.m. Simply put, this means to take time in the middle of your day to look at what you’ve accomplished and what you still need to do.

If you’ve done well so far, it’s a great encouragement to keep being productive. However, if you’ve frittered away the first part of the day, it’s an opportunity to get back on track and get something done.

Looking over what 2012 has been like so far, do you need to “restart” your year? One of the most uplifting things about our faith is that it’s never too late to start over, to renew our- selves. In fact, each new day that God gives presents us with that possibility.

If you want to make the world a ho- lier place, you know where to start —in your own heart. So go dig up those New Year’s resolutions (or sit down and make some today) and “Festina Lente”: Hasten through the rest of this year . . . slowly and purposefully.

About the author

Fr. Mark Goldasich

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