Our family recently suffered one of the great crises facing practically all 21st Century Americans… yep, our computer crashed.
As the Jesuit political philosopher Fr. James Schall once said to me, “from crashed computers, spare us O Lord!”
We’d known it was coming. The stalling during loading of webpages, timing out of applications…but we kept pushing off what we knew we needed to do. Finally, close to 8 years after we brought the computer home, it crashed for good.
Being too cheap or frugal to just go out and buy a computer while we had one that still worked (for the most part), we had prepared for the moment. Like a wise and prudent contemporary American we backed up photos, files and documents shortly before it crashed. Yet we didn’t know exactly when it would happen, so when it did we still had a minor surprise. “Oh! Finally…”
I had been soliciting thoughts from a few technologically savvy friends over the last few months, so I at least had a place to begin looking for a new computer without too much panic. We probably lost a few minor items in the crash, but nothing majorly important. We had been vigilant, alert.
About the same time the computer crashed, the pregnancy resource clinic where my wife was working underwent a major leadership change that resulted in the entire local clinic’s staff either resigning or being terminated. Here too, however, we’d seen this coming in many ways, so on the day it all came to a head, the staff suffered only a minor surprise, “Ok, well it’s happening now…” The staff had been preparing for this moment, so when the axe fell they all knew their next step and took it.
In the midst of both these events, we had also been working on financial and estate planning for our family and began implementing some changes and taking some actions to protect, better utilize and secure our assets and investments. I had even sent a text message of satisfaction to John once we had things in place – it sure felt good to know I’m helping to take care of my family.
I light of all this I can’t say I was too surprised when, at the same time as everything else I mentioned, we had the reading from Luke’s Gospel during the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time about the vigilant servants and the admonition to “be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” A couple weeks later, in the Gospel for the Thursday of the 21st week in ordinary time, Christ admonished us in the 24th chapter of Matthew to “stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come…you also must be prepared, for at an hour your do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” The very next day’s Gospel came from the very next chapter in Matthew’s Gospel and read, “stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
It got me thinking, how am I preparing for that hour – an hour I can’t expect. We had prepared for the computer crash, we had prepared for job change, for our family’s financial future. But what had I done to prepare for the hour I know is coming, but will likely have no advance notice of?
When I was younger I used to enjoy speculative theology – adding up the numbers in the names of contemporary political leaders to see if they “add up” to the Antichrist; reading about obscure apparitions and personal revelations issuing dire warnings for the Church and the world; trying to compute certain dates at which times the world would break into the final battle; pondering whether the Third Secret of Fatima had indeed been fulfilled or not… It was fun, made for exciting theo-drama, but it was distracting. I was more into the action and politics of what these events may mean- there was even something a bit fearful in them: an exciting fear of the unknown. Yet I was missing the true message the Gospel, of the apparitions. They are all calls for preparation – not for some immanent Armageddon, but for my Salvation.
Christ comes to me daily; how do I respond? Do I open the door and allow him in? Have I made a good confession recently? Am I trying to amend my life? Have I made the little conversions in my heart every day that are necessary to grow closer to Him? Christ calls me closer not out of the excitement of an adrenaline rush or fear of flames bursting from the skies, but out love.
Responding to that Love and making those spiritual preparations are way more important than backing up my computer files, job issues and financial planning, and they need revisiting regularly. Revisit them now, before its too late!
PS – Not a great segue on this post, but please pray for my wife and I as we’ll be travelling to Chicago for work next week. Thanks!