We’re in the thick of the fall semester at the Orthodox School of Theology! This semester, I get to co-teach my favorite course, Sanctification of Time: Orthodox Liturgy of the Hours and Liturgical Year with the co-director of our program (and my priest, friend, fellow time enthusiast) Fr. Geoffrey Ready. The aim of this course is to explore the way in which the church over the centuries has employed the various cycles of time — daily, weekly, and annual — to redirect our lives toward the kingdom of God, which is our ultimate goal. Just as all the major passages of our lives, from birth to death, are sanctified, so also is the daily course of life. In addition to exploring the gears of the cycles of time, prayers, and services in the Church, we regularly assign readings that explore more generally theological understandings of time.
This is a mini lecture discussion from a few weeks ago on one of my favourite theological texts of the 20th century, Romanian theologian Fr. Dumitru Staniloae’s brief essay Eternity and Time translated from a French talk he once gave. It’s one of my favourites not because it’s the most polished work of theology out there, nor is it the only place in Stanilouae’s oeuvre that explores temporality, nor is it the most academic or erudite, but because (speaking of time and brevity) in a few short pages he manages to say something about the interaction between time and eternity that is not only deep and thought-provoking but also has profound meaning and import for our daily lives. Like Kallistos Ware’s famous essay “Time: Prison or Path to Freedom?” (which draws on Staniloae’s thought), it’s one of those texts that stays with you your whole life. In fact, it was one of the primary inspirations behind Time and Despondency, and I engaged the essay at length in chapter two of that book.