Family matters

‘End times’ readings challenge us to be our best selves

Family matters

Deacon Tony Zimmerman is the lead archdiocesan consultant for the office of marriage and family life.

by Deacon Tony Zimmerman

Imagine, if you will, being on retreat. It has been a long day. You have reflected on many areas of your marriage and family life.

How much time do you have left?

Before retiring, the priest reads a prayer for your bedtime reflection. The prayer is a poem/prayer written by Father Michael Quoist, “Story: Lord, I Have Time.”

Although it sounds promising at the start, the prayer makes it abundantly clear that we don’t have time. The words, “too late . . . they have no more time . . . The hours are too short. The days are too short. Our lives are too short. We must not lose time, waste time, kill time, for time is a gift you give us, but a perishable gift that does not keep.”

Your response might be, “Thanks, Father! How do you expect me to rest or sleep with this on my mind!”

Why would this priest share this? Because he knew that the last thing we think of before going to sleep rolls around in our brains. Surprise! The next morning you awaken with an urgency to re-evaluate all the areas of your life that you reflected on the day before.

You wonder, “What changes do I have to make to be a better spouse, parent, grandparent or family member?”

The prayer’s closing line sums it up best: “I am not asking you, Lord, for the time to do this and then that, but your grace to do conscientiously, in the time you give me, what you want me to do.”

The upcoming Sunday’s readings focus on the “end times” and of “being on guard” for the coming of Our Lord. This doesn’t mean we have to be gloomy.

Instead, all this should challenge us to consider what changes we can make so that in the time God has given us, we might be a better spouse, parent, grandparent or family member.

  • Spend time in quiet prayer listening to God’s desire for you.
  • Choose one thing that is doable to answer and follow God’s lead.
  • Be accountable. Share the one act you chose with your spouse or loved ones, asking them to support you with prayer.
  • Begin your day focused on that one thing; examine your efforts before bed in prayer.
  • Visit the Joyful Marriage Project on Facebook for ideas, inspiration and support.
  • Visit the website at: and click on “For Your Marriage” for daily tips, blogs and ideas.
  • Visit the website at: and click the “Catholic Parenting Newsletter” link.
  • Sign up for marriage enrichment such as “Living in Love” or Worldwide Marriage Encounter to give your New Year a boost.

Does this sound like I am heaping more things to do into your busy schedule? Not at all! Choose one thing.

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Deacon Tony Zimmerman

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