Spring 1991

Time in Eternity, Eternity in Time: On the Contemplative-Active Life

David L. Schindler

"The deepest meaning of temporality is found in relation to eternity, in the relation of love which is from and for the Father."

Contemplation suggests to our culture a withdrawal from ac­tion. The "timefulness" of our active lives seems to stand in stark contrast to the "timelessness" of any contemplative mo­ments in those lives. Indeed, those who would defend the worth or superiority of the contemplative often reinforce the sense of its contrast with the active. This typically occurs in two ways.

On a "Greek" version, action is understood to be related to contemplation only as it were by way of succession, as something that occurs either before or after but in any case never coincident with contemplation. And action at the same time is something that becomes devalued: the warrant for its engage­ment is seen to be a function of, and thereby a necessary con­cession to, our "immanence" in time.

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