Fr. Patrick Hederman

Somebody decreed that we lose an hour’s sleep last night and we all agreed. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here. We’d still be in bed. So, this morning in this church we are all suffering from DST.

DST is the acronym for Daylight Saving Time, a fairly recent invention of the British government. It was first proposed in 1907 by William Willet, an English builder and outdoorsman who, during a pre-breakfast horseback ride, was dismayed to see so many Londoners sleeping through the best part of the summer’s day. An avid golfer, he disliked cutting short his round of golf at dusk, so he published a pamphlet called The Waste of Daylight. He had two bills introduced to the British Parliament; both were rejected and he died of influenza, at the age of 58, in 1915.

Winston Churchill backed his scheme as early as 1911in a speech in parliament: ‘An extra yawn some morning in the spring, an extra snooze some night in the autumn, is all we ask in return for the most dazzling benefits.’ In 1916, when Britain and Germany were at war, Germany first decided to try Willett’s scheme to save fuel costs for lighting. A few weeks later, Britain hurriedly passed the Summer Time Act, and so, on May 21st 1916, almost a month after our Easter Rising here, Britain’s Summer Time became a reality. In Ballingarry, Co Limerick, where I come from, we refused to put our clocks backwards or forwards. We stuck to what we called ‘God’s time’ which meant that we were an hour behind everyone else. We believed that by sticking to God’s own time we would reap ‘the most dazzling benefits’ of quite another kind.

Christianity has devised an alternative calendar year, a different way of living time. Three weeks from now, Sunday the 17th April, is D-Day in that computation. If you look up google you will find that this all-important day is listed as National Espresso Day in Italy if your interest is in concentrated coffee; as National Haiku Poetry Day in Japan if you’re into concentrated poems; and as Bat Appreciation Day in the United States: to raise awareness of the critical role that bats play in our ecosystem.

For us, on the contrary, three weeks from today, Sunday the 17th April, is the most important day of the whole year: it is the day of resurrection, the day when Jesus Christ transformed the whole of our ecosystem. He introduced daylight saving time forever and ever. From now on ‘They will need neither lamplight nor sunlight, because the Lord God will be shining on them forever.’[1]  Saint Paul assured us in today’s second reading:[2] ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!’ Again he tells us in the Epistle to the Romans: ‘If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’[3] This is Daylight saving time by the new time, by God’s time; and you have three weeks left, during this special time of Lent, to prepare yourself for take-off.

God, thou great symmetry
Who put a biting lust in me
From whence my sorrows spring,
For all the frittered days
That I have spent in shapeless ways
Give me one perfect thing.[4]

[1] Revelation, 22:5.

[2] Corinthians, 5:17.

[3] Romans 10:9.

[4] ‘Envoi’ by Anna Wickham.

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