Another Day is Gone

From: Thoughts for July 13 from Fr Willie Doyle

“Another day is gone”. This is a summer sunset in Dun Laoghaire, very close to where Fr Doyle grew up.

“Another day is gone”. This is a summer sunset in Dun Laoghaire, very close to where Fr Doyle grew up.


“The soft chimes of the angelus bell mark the fall of evening. Another day is gone. Another precious day, our measurement of God’s most precious gift, time, has passed away and is swallowed up in the vast gulf of the irrevocable past. Another day has passed! Another stage of our journey towards our final end is traversed. Nearer still than yesterday to that solemn moment of our lives, its end; nearer still to heaven with its joys unknown, untasted; nearer still to Him for Whom we labour now and strive to serve. How many more days are left? Too few alas! for all we have to do, but not so few that we cannot heap them high with noble deeds and victories bravely won.”

COMMENT: Each day brings us closer to our death, and to our judgement. In fact, none of us have ever been as close to our deaths than we are at this present moment…

This is a deeply sobering thought. The stark nature of these thoughts can tempt us to downplay them or to scrub them from our minds simply because they are uncomfortable. But death is the ONE thing we cannot ultimately ignore. The fact of our death, and that each day brings us closer to it, is an incontrovertible truth. Our last day on earth will come, perhaps sooner than we would like. Ignoring this fact does not make it any less true.

It has traditionally been a common feature of Catholic spirituality to meditate on the Four Last Things: death, judgement, Heaven and Hell. Many saints had the habit of keeping skulls with them in order to remind them of death.

This focus on death need not necessarily make us morose, and in fact can encourage us to joyfully make the most of the time that we do have on earth. And, as Christians, we must also remember that death is not the end, but, if we die in a state of grace, ultimately leads to a joyful eternity. Fr Doyle lived with death for almost two years during the Great War. Despite being surrounded with death, and facing the real possibility of his own demise, he retained his constant joy and cheerfulness.

Remembering the fact of our death allows us to make the most of our lives. We are alive for a purpose; our human life is vitally important as it is the training ground for eternity. How easy it could be to waste days listlessly if we ignored the shortness of our time on earth.

Time is a great gift, the existence of which allows us to change and to grow closer to God. When we consider the sins of our lives, we should, as Fr Doyle says, use the opportunities of each day “to heap them high with noble deeds and victories bravely won”. These deeds will normally be composed of the ordinary activities of the moment and hidden faithfulness to our duty that is hardly discerned by any passer-by. But this faithfulness day by day can allow us to face the prospect of death with the cheerfulness that characterised Fr Doyle’s apostolate in the killing fields of World War I.

Perhaps it is worth concluding today with two lines from ‘The Imitation of Christ’:

“Always remember your end and do not forget that lost time never returns.

If you have spent the day profitably, you will always be happy at eventide.”

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5 Responses to Another Day is Gone

  1. Simply beautiful and so true.God Bless.

  2. Ever mindful says:

    What a wonderful meditation.
    Thank you

  3. Mimi says:

    Yes, a brilliant post!

    I do find that if I hold in my mind the thought that today could be the last day of my life, I do everything more carefully, more intensely and more mindfully. The most mundane things take on greater meaning and significance, and I am more appreciative of and grateful for everything and everyone. I never bid a careless goodbye to my loved ones, because it could be my last!

  4. toadspittle says:

    “…If you have spent the day profitably, you will always be happy at eventide.”

    True. A couple of winners at Sandown Park can make all the difference

  5. kathleen says:

    Good to hear from you agin Mimi… and thank you for this timely reminder.

    I remember once reading (in a homily by St. John Bosco) about the last words of the secretary of some long ago king of England as he lay dying: “Oh woe is me! I have spent so much of my life writing pages of letters for my king, and not one single page to write down my sins!”
    Those words stuck firmly in my mind (especially as I am wont to dreaming and wasting time!😉 ). Our days given to us on Earth are so precious, with every new day that dawns being an opportunity to “store up treasure in Heaven”.

    “Thoughts for the Day” from the “Remembering Fr. Willie Doyle” website has become a source of constant inspiration for me. I hope and pray that one day the ‘heroic virtue’ of this saintly Irish priest will be publicly recognised by the Church.

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