What year is it, anyway?

Over the last week I have taken to the annual task of transcribing phone numbers, e-mail addresses and other bits of the critical information of…

Over the last week I have taken to the annual task of transcribing phone numbers, e-mail addresses and other bits of the critical information of every day life from my dog-eared 2005 agenda into my brand new 2006 Latin American agenda (copies are still available from the Social Justice Committee!).

Dates of upcoming events have made over from their precarious perch as scribbles on the end pages of the 2005 agenda to their own properly dated pages in this year’s book.

My agenda keeps me more or less on track.

If a meeting or key event doesn’t somehow make it on to those pages odds are that I will miss it.

If, for some rare reason, I don’t take a look at its pages on a given day the same fate probably will await me. Calendars organize our lives.

Our own calendar, the Gregorian calendar proclaimed in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII, ordered the advancement of the old Julian calendar by 10 days.

It seems that Julius Caesar’s calendar didn’t quite get it right. It deviated from the solar year by 11 minutes annually — which adds up over the centuries.

Some Orthodox Christian churches still follow the Julian calendar, which now is 13 days behind the Gregorian.

This is why we can wish our Orthodox friends a Merry Christmas this coming weekend.

The Gregorian calendar tweaked the old calendar by dictating century years such as 1700 or 1800 would no longer leap years, unless divisible by 400 like the year 2000 was.

This has our calendar only out of synch with the solar year one day in about every 3,300 years.

A billion or so of our fellow global inhabitants living in Islamic countries use a completely different calendar based on a lunar year.

Unfortunately solar and lunar cycles don’t mesh all that well. Their calendar slides forward over 11 days every Gregorian year. By the Islamic calendar it is 1426, not 2006.

The Jewish calendar blends both the solar and lunar and address the difference with an occasional extra month.

It is year 5766 by their count.

The Chinese have a similar solar lunar blend for their calendar but they, if you took the time to count their cycles, would call the current year 4703.

Through careful observations the ancient Mayans created a calendar 2,400 years ago that is more accurate than even our Gregorian calendar — but with Spanish conquest of their last independent city-state in 1697 their time ended.

If it’s 5766, 4703, 2006 or 1426 does it really make a difference?

All the different calendars mark the same, common passage of time. Time is one of the most valuable possessions we have to use.

As long ago noted in Ecclesiastes 3:8 there is a time for everything: “A time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

What are we doing with our time?

It has been over a month since abductors seized four members of the Christian Peacemaker Team in Baghdad, Iraq.

We do not know the fate of the two Canadians James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden whom they hold along with Norman Kember from England and Tom Fox from the USA.

We do know, though, that efforts to secure their safe release continue.

Friends and supporters of the Christian Peacemakers Teams and their goals will hold a prayer vigil for the safe release of these captives and all victims of war every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral at Fourth and Steele.

All are welcome to join them for a quiet few minutes spent praying for peace.

Maybe this will help sustain our efforts to build peace in our community and world for the rest of the year by whatever calendar we use.

For more news on the Christian Peacemaker Teams and information on how you can support their work go to their web site at www.cpt.org 

Roman Catholics in the Yukon and northern British Columbia are happily noting the naming of a new bishop, Father Gary Gordon, who is currently serving as a parish priest in Chilliwack, BC.

They will be marking their calendars for his soon-to-be-announced ordination as bishop for the Diocese of Whitehorse.

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