Any Given Saturday
Sometimes, a quarterback just doesn’t have what it takes to deliver the football to his receivers.
The same can be true of professors attempting passes of theorems to freshmen.
I relied on my brilliant friend Erica to explain all that my calc 101 professor couldn’t. Looking back, I probably owe her money for all that tutoring, but “things I owe Erica” is a longer post for a different day.
With time on my hands in class, I started crafting a very detailed schedule of my ideal Saturday. Eventually, an exquisite itinerary took shape.
The document is lost to pandemicleaning, but it surely included:
Wake up: in Paris, without an alarm, to breakfast served to me on a balcony (featuring very good coffee)
After Dinner: long walk by the Seine
One day, as I was waiting for Erica in the student center, a sophomore stopped to say hello. He was someone I had known for years, but who seemed more like a celebrity to me. I still look up to him.
“What are you working on?” asked the role model. I showed him the itinerary. He handed it back with a single, devastating comment:
”Your perfect day is all about you.”
All in the Timing
He headed to class, and I am certain that he has no memory of this incident. But I do.
His words disrupted and shocked and convicted.
Perhaps the most damning thing about having fantasized about an ideal, self-centered day in a beautiful place is that I was living that fantasy already. Have you been to Notre Dame’s campus? Even when it is not early October or late April, campus is gorgeous. The amenities compete with the best resorts: I could swim laps, play tennis, read under a tree, run around the lakes, any time I wanted. Study spots in the library overlooked the shining Dome. Hogwartsish dining halls made my meals and washed my dishes. Even prayer had its luxuries: a marvelous basilica, an enchanted grotto, and chapels of all fashions open all hours of the day and night.
Be careful of having your self-centered heaven on earth; it doesn’t always move you forward.
The fundamental mistake is to start with the wrong metric, the metric of Fun.
Fun is no one’s calling. I am called to sacrificial love in imitation of Christ, and planning my days and structuring my time sit right at the heart of that call. If I believe this is the true purpose of my life, I believe sacrifice will lead somewhere much better than Fun.
The very word perseverance suggests that the path of true love remains difficult even when walking it becomes habitual; we resist love even as we actively pursue it.
When we are imperfect, we experience His love as suffering.
But in God’s good timing, one day I will attain to a unity with His perfect will such that I will experience His love as happiness without any shadow of hardship.
On that day, my ideal Saturday will look a lot more like an ideal Sunday.
Until that time, I ask for God’s grace to plan, to persevere, and to pray.
A Reflection from Joseph Whelan, SJ:
Nothing is more practical
than finding God,
than falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you
out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you
with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.
Photo of the University of Notre Dame’s Main Building credit to Dylan LaPierre on Unsplash