In the Eastern rite churches, just before Eucharist begins, the deacon chants, “Kairos tou poiesai to Kyrio” (“It is time [kairos] for the Lord to act”); indicating that the time of the liturgy is an intersection with eternity.
One icy fall away from eternity
Have you ever been to a liturgy like that? Or have you ever experienced a time like that—when the here-and-now seemed to intersect with eternity? I remember the first time I skied down a blue-diamond (medium difficulty) slope. I’m afraid of heights, so the chair lift up to the top of the mountain was not a spiritual experience. I got off the lift and shuffled over to the edge of the slope. “Slope” is a nice euphemism. “Sheer wall of vertical ice” seemed like a more appropriate description at the time.
I made the Sign of the Cross and pushed off. My skis were pointed straight down the mountain, and I was accelerating way too fast. I turned hard to the left and almost summersaulted into the snow. But I caught my balance at the last second, s-turned back to the right, and all of a sudden I was skiing! My feet and my knees seemed to know exactly what to do. As I glided downward, I looked up and saw mountains all around me, wrapped in dazzling white. The sky was crystal blue, and the high sun made everything sparkle. The Lord was acting in that moment, joining my small human time with the eternal time of creation.
How do we create kairos in the RCIA?
When we are forming the faith of RCIA participants, our goal is to bring them to that kind of time—kairos. It is the time when the Lord acts. It is the time when the Lord is present in a way that absorbs all our attention. Time seems to stop, and everything is about right here, right now. And in a mysterious way, that eternal moment is also about everything in the past and everything in the future.
All of us in this ministry have had those time-out-of-time experiences. But for me, they have most often been surprises. I didn’t get on the chair lift that day expecting kairos. If we are going to wow our catechumens and candidates, how do we create moments of kairos for them? How do we bring them to the intersection with eternity? How do we help them experience “real presence”?
(This series on creating “wow” experiences is based on the ideas of Michael Hyatt, chairman of Thomas Nelson Books.)