Some tough questions from Fr Michael Casey OCSO


This morning the employees of the agencies of the Melbourne Archdiocese benefited from a presentation by local Cistercian monk and scholar, Fr Michael Casey, from Tarrawarra Abbey about 60km away from here in the Yarra Valley.

He finished his presentation by posing some reflection questions for us. Here are three of them:

– Have I asked myself recently what are the really important things in my life, my relationships, my work?

– Do I ever reflect on the quality of my time as distinct fromthe quantity available? Does the URGENT displace the IMPORTANT?

– Do I act as though the way I spend my time is totally outside the sphere of personal choice? Am I a slave to perceived or actual obligations?

These are tough questions if we take them seriously. Perhaps slightly related to that is the reaction I had to one of the Catholics Come Home videos I saw this morning (the “Movie” one) which ended with this hope: that at the end of my life God will say to me “Well done, good and faithful servant.” It only struck me when I heard that that this is indeed my greatest desire in life. Something to think about.

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3 responses to “Some tough questions from Fr Michael Casey OCSO

  1. Mikha'el

    That too is my greatest desire. I was given a glimpse of it in The Last Battle of The Chronicles of Narnia, when Emeth the Calormene- who had submitted to another god in ignorance of Aslan- entered the real Narnia and finally came face to face with Aslan. Speaking to the others who had just entered the real Narnia, Emeth said:

    “Then I fell at his [Aslan’s] feet and thought, Surely this is the hour of death, for the Lion (who is worthy of all honour) will know that I have served Tash all my days and not him. Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him. But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, ‘Son, thou art welcome.’ But I said, ‘Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash.’ He answered, ‘Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me.’
    “… I said also (for the truth constrained me), ‘Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days.’ ‘Beloved’, said the Glorious One, ‘unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and truly. For all find what they truly seek.’” (Chapter 15, Farther Up and Farther In)

    This glimpse transcended the intellect. The reader was permitted to enter the story and experience in a small way what the characters themselves were experiencing.

    Also, in response to the questions posed by Fr Michael Casey, I add this (which I took away from Prof. Peter Kreeft’s online lectures): Jesus desires that we put him before all else, including relationships, work, concerns about time, etc., though not to their neglect, but rather to their perfection. That is, he wants us ‘to do the work of Martha in the spirit of Mary.’ If we run short on time, we give Jesus a few loaves of our time (especially in the morning) and watch as they are multiplied by the end of the day. Prof. Kreeft is a very practical philosopher. I do not think he was speaking fancifully.

  2. Schütz

    Thanks for the Kreeft note. That, in fact, is something that Fr Michael did not mention…

    Re the Last Battle, my wife and I were listening to this on audio book in the car with the kids coming back from Mildura to Melbourne recently (for out-of-towners, that is a really, really, really long way).

    I was fascinated by Lewis’ “interfaith theology” in this final book. Obviously he is building on some of the early church fathers’ ideas, but he pre-empts the Vatican II statement that those who seek God and obey the truth to the extent that it has been revealed to them (even without explicit knowledge of Christ) may also be saved.

  3. Jeff Tan

    And what a time to be alive and.. in peril. So much to do, so little time — and what does the former really refer to? Things that need doing? Things that can be done?

    I carry around a laptop, a palmtop and a mobile. They let me do what I “need” to do anywhere, anytime, even on the move. Are they urgent? Probably, but whether they are truly or artificially urgent, I can hardly tell.

    And Fr. Michael asks “are they important?”

    For me, probably not.

    Thanks for sharing this, David.

    A minute ago I was mulling over the time (1 am now) and why my laptop was still on after the bread is already baked and in the cooling tray anyway. All this online reading can get terribly exciting and, hey, even educational. But it struck me as funny that I can probably profit more from praying the rosary while the bread was baking. Although this post on Fr. Michael’s reflections is a gem. But having said that, I think next time I’ll just pray. Probably more important than reading up online at midnight.