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Carpe Diem

Google carpe diem and you are not sure if it’s referring to a restaurant, an art supply store, a preschool home page, a Profits Margins web site or the “seize the day” theme made popular by movie “Dead Poets Society”. The Latin phrase, carpe diem, is actually attributed to the Roman poet Horace, (65 BC – 8 BC) who lived under the same Emperor, Caesar Augustus, who was in power when Jesus was born.     


Google carpe diem and you are not sure if it’s referring to a restaurant, an art supply store, a preschool home page, a Profits Margins web site or the “seize the day” theme made popular by movie “Dead Poets Society”. The Latin phrase, carpe diem, is actually attributed to the Roman poet Horace, (65 BC – 8 BC) who lived under the same Emperor, Caesar Augustus, who was in power when Jesus was born.     

Carpe means "pick, pluck, pluck off, gather", but Horace uses the word to mean "enjoy, make use of, making the most of current opportunities because life is short and time is fleeting” – carpe diem, seize the day, redeem the time.

This  biblical value precedes Horace. Note Psalms 90:12 “So teach us to consider our mortality so that we may live wisely.” Carpe diem fits here.  Paul reminds in Ephesians 5:15-17 “therefore be very careful how you live- not as unwise but as wise, taking advantage of every opportunity because the days are evil.” Redeem the time- carpe diem.

This idea was made more poignant to me in the last few days. One of my closest lifetime friends is dying of cancer. I just celebrated my birthday and this weekend at a conference on missions we were strongly reminded of how brief life is.

What does carpe diem say to us in the 21st century? How can I redeem time? Time is like a commodity and can be traded for treasure. Each conversation now with my friend is like gold.The missions speaker said invest your time in eternal dividends. Jesus said to seek His kingdom first Matthew 6:33. To Martha he said in Luke 10:41-42… “only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part that cannot be taken away from her.”

For me, it is being aware that my days are numbered in God’s economy of time. I do not know when the last one will be. I have a choice to invest each moment. I have a choice to be more attentive to what God is doing, to consciously enjoy time with my husband and to be still in the presence of Christ noticing Him and letting His presence nourish my soul.

I’m not sure carpe diem means tighter scheduling, more efficient living, saving time at every
millisecond, working faster and faster. What do you think? What would carpe diem look like for you?

Gail Seidel served as Mentor Advisor for Spiritual Formation in the Department of Spiritual Formation and Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and as an Adjunct Professor in the D Min in Spiritual Formation in the D Min Department at Dallas Theological Seminary. She has a BA in English from the University of Texas, a Masters in Christian Education from Dallas Seminary and a D Min in Spiritual Formation from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is a contributor to the textbook, Foundations of Spiritual Formation, Kregel Academic. She served as co-director for Christian Women in Partnership Russia with Entrust, an international church leadership-training mission. She and her husband Andy live in Fredericksburg, Texas. They have 2 married children and 6 wonderful grandchildren--Kami, Kourtney, Katie, Mallory, Grayson, and Avery.

One Comment

  • Ben

    Carpe Diem
    I like it! I’ve always really loved that phrase, but had never known where its origins lay. Another place in the Bible where it seems to fit perfectly is one of my favorite verses, 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run but only one wins the prize? Run in such a way as to win the prize.” Thanks for sharing!