Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Prioritizing Our Allegiances and Attachments

By Jennifer Gregory Miller ( bio - articles - email ) | Oct 12, 2021 | In The Liturgical Year

The past two weeks have been a little hard on my family. A simple back surgery for my dad has unraveled into life-threatening situations and 3 additional surgeries. He is still in ICU, but seems to be on the right path of recovery. But this will be a long process of healing.

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This comes on the heels of my neighbor and his wife having to bear some big crosses. They planned to move near their daughter’s family to see their grandchild. The husband was retiring at the end of this month, so they put their house on the market. The couple drove to look at another house in Michigan. It was supposed to be a short weekend trip, but a head-on collision changed everything. My neighbors survived, but the husband is starting from scratch on relearning everything.

And another dear friend suddenly lost her 24-year-old daughter to drowning. She had just passed her nurse’s exams.

In a moment everything changed. Life as we know passes. These are reminders of our mortality.

These past two weeks, Matthew 24:40-42 keeps rolling in my mind:

Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.
Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.

While my father and neighbor are not gone, life as we know it is changed suddenly. I have been reminded about how we never know when or what will happen. We are not in control. That is one of the messages our modern society won’t accept. We are not in control, but we think and act like we are. Society makes us think we can control whether we live or die or if we get sick. When something out of our control happens, it’s harder to understand or accept, and we start grasping at ways to again try to gain control the situation.

My thoughts mirror the autumnal season in the Northern Hemisphere. Nature is preparing for dormancy, and to all eyes everything is dying. The Catholic Lectionary echoes this pattern, recognizing that the end of the Liturgical Year is a time to think of our earthly end. We have six more weeks in Ordinary Time. October and some of November’s readings encourage us to decide where is our allegiance. Do I put too much stake in wealth and worldly goods? What and where are my attachments? Do I have firmly in my heart that to live for the Kingdom of God is my main goal in life?

Around the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time the Gospels really shift to focusing on the eschatological (or final things) sense. And during the end of October and the whole month of November we are also thinking and praying for our beloved departed. Are we ready for our call to leave this earth? Are we still connected and praying for our loved ones?

I often visualize a veil lifting during this time of the year. There is closer connection and awareness of the spiritual world. We just celebrated two feasts of the angels, being reminded of our constant allies who help us on our journey. In a few weeks we celebrate all the saints and then commemorate the faithful departed. Our spiritual allies and companions on this journey are all part of the Mystical Body of Christ.

And this time of the year reminds us that our life IS a journey. This earthly life is not the end. We can’t be distracted, but need to focus on the right allegiances and be attached only to God. We need to order our priorities. We should take this moment to look ahead, recommit and plan for the end of our journey, “for you do not know on which day your Lord will come.”

Jennifer Gregory Miller is an experienced homemaker, mother, CGS catechist and authority on living the liturgical year. She is the primary developer of CatholicCulture.org’s liturgical year section. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: grateful1 - Oct. 12, 2021 7:47 PM ET USA

    Thank you for this moving reflection, Jennifer, especially for taking the time to write it in the midst of such sadness. I hope your effort brought you a measure of peace, as it did me. I've just said a prayer for you, and your father and friends.