Article: Robin Williams and Lent

Newry Cathedral News

One of my favourite films is ‘The Dead Poets Society.’ In the film Robin Williams plays the part of an English teacher, John Keating, who seeks to inspire his students through poetry. Williams uses the phrase ‘Carpe Diem’ which becomes the trademark phrase of the film. 

Carpe Diem is a Latin phrase that translates to “seize the day”. The phrase is often used to encourage people to make the most of the present moment and to not postpone important actions or decisions. The concept of the phrase is closely related to the idea of living in the present moment, as it emphasises the importance of taking action and making the most of the time we have. To me, it is a wonderful reminder that life is short and that we should not wait until tomorrow to pursue our dreams or live our lives to the fullest. 

In today’s busy world where social media pervades every corner of our lives it’s easy to get caught up in the ‘rat race’ and lose sight of the present, the important things in life that are at times pushed into the margins of our minds.  Now I don’t mean that living for the day means that we become reckless or irresponsible. Rather the process is about finding a balance between living in the moment and planning for the future, and importantly making choices and prioritising the important things in our lives and aligning these with our values and goals. Making the most of our time is about making a conscious effort to focus with God on how we can improve our here and now. In communion with our religious belief, it is about cultivating a greater sense of mindfulness and the enriched fulfilment in our lives. 

This train of thought is also reflected in a great quote from the Dali Lama that states ‘There are only two days in the year when nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow. So today is the only right day to love, to do and mostly to live.’  

This encourages us all to live for the day and do what in our power, not what we think what the wider world influences direct us to think what we need to do.  In our lives how many of us are carrying the weight of regret or the pain of bitterness that anchors us to a past that we cannot change or a future that we worry about, and is yet to happen. This quote reminds us that dwelling on the past or worrying about the future prevents us from fully experiencing the bounties that God has provided in the present and inhibits us from appreciating them. 

As we begin our Lenten journey let’s not just look to sacrifice and fasting. Use this period to embrace our present situations, reengage with God, make the most of our time, live our lives to the fullest, loving those around us, pursuing our passions and goals, and being fully engaged in each God given moment. 

The is another phrase I hear many times at home “God never closes a door but he opens a window.” My mother always used this when one opportunity or path was closed to me and instead of being downhearted or disappointed she always pointed to the alternative opportunity or path that was available but in my despondency I had failed to notice it.  

This message of hope and encouragement, reminds us that even in the face of adversity or disappointment, there is always a way forward. It encourages us to have faith and to trust that things will work out in the end, even if they don’t go exactly as we planned. God is always there helping you navigate you path through life, you just need to ask, there is always a new door or window of opportunity waiting if we keep our hearts and minds open. 

The approach of celebrating life, living for the day, enables us to focus on what we can do, enjoy the present and build inner contentment. It encourages us to savour life’s experiences, to appreciate the people and things that matter most to us, and to not take anything for granted. 

Reminder to be present and mindful in our lives, to enjoy the journey rather than just focusing on the destination, and to make the most of every moment we have. God’s powerful message encourages us to live with purpose and intention and to make the most of every moment we have.