The Sabbath: Rehearsal for eternity

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Gallons of ink have been spilled in the search for a complete definition of man. But Father Thomas Dubay, S.M., offers an important contribution when he describes his reader as “a thirst in the flesh, an incarnated thirst.”

Dubay insists that humans do not merely thirst for the transcendent: humans are thirsts. “Every single choice you make all day long is proof that you seek, you desire, you want, you lack. Nothing is ever enough,” he writes.

Our identities as walking, breathing thirsts means that we are constantly seeking, desiring and yearning for love. This is a beautiful reality! We are always called “further up and further in,” as C.S. Lewis writes in “The Last Battle,” invited to deeper intimacy, trust, and surrender to the Lord and to our loved ones. 

But Satan seeks to twist this God-given thirst. He leads us to empty cisterns where we dig deeper and deeper, panting for a water that cannot satisfy. Our thirst for temporal goods causes us to forget that we are created for rest. 

Although it is a temptation at all stages of life, college students are particularly notorious for rejecting rest. Although it is noble to thirst after excellence in academics and all the goodness that college offers, there is such a temptation to make our planners into altars. We sacrifice a balanced life that includes sleep, nutrition, and authentic leisure for the sake of packing in as many activities and perfect grades as possible. 

Many of us battle mediocrity in all things except for our observation of the third commandment. We are so willing to go the extra mile in assignments, social activities, athletics and our daily prayer lives. But in the chaos of the week, we allow Sunday to look like any other day, walking out of Sunday Mass and launching into another day of homework and agitation. 

But your destiny is eternal rest in the arms of Jesus Christ. Before you are a student, athlete or employee, you are a beloved son or daughter. You are a “thirst” because your Father desires to quench you with His very self.

Our infinite thirsts will only be fulfilled after our deaths, when we come face to face with infinite Love. But Jesus does not leave us restless orphans until that moment. Rather, He calls us to cultivate the art of rest, even as overwhelmed college students.

In this vale of tears, Jesus offers us fulfillment and rest every Sunday. Although Sunday Mass is the zenith of our entire week, the Lord desires that every moment of Sunday will draw us into restful communion with Him. 

Is your work on Sunday truly necessary? All of the liberal arts are intended to be leisurely, but maybe you can save the homework from your favorite class for Sunday. 

Another suggestion is to set aside unnecessary technology on Sunday. Your inbox will be accessible on Monday. As for the tweets you miss — well, it’s probably for the best that those are lost in your feed.

A retreat is another beautiful way to rehearse for eternity. When every waking minute is brimming with activity and stimulation, it can be difficult to gaze interiorly on all that the Lord has done and desires to do in your soul and life. On Oct. 7-9, freshmen and transfer students have the opportunity to attend the Genesis retreat, where they can step aside from the chaos of daily life and process all that has taken place since the start of the school year.

I know from personal experience that it can be difficult to tear yourself away from homework and any jobs you work. But Jesus delights in outdoing our generosity. If you respond to His words, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,” He will multiply your time and provide for your academic needs. In a matter of years, your GPA will not matter in the slightest. But your capacity to rest and receive from the Lord holds eternal value. 
The Sabbath is intended to be a rehearsal for our eternal wedding feast. It is practice for the unending race that the Bride and Bridegroom run in the Song of Songs. In this next week, especially on Sunday and through the Genesis retreat, I encourage you to accept Jesus’ invitation to truly rest. You are wildly loved by the Lord of the Sabbath.

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