There is nothing more precious than time; but by many there is nothing less valued. At the hour of death, to obtain even one short hour men would give all they possess–wealth, honours, pleasures,–but this hour shall not be given them. They will weep and say: O fools that we have been! O time for ever lost!
There is nothing more precious than time; but there is nothing less valued and more despised by men in the world. Lamenting over this, St. Bernard goes on to say: “The days of salvation pass, and no one reflects that for him that day vanishes and returns no more.” You will see that gambler, who night and day loses his time in play. If you ask him: What art thou doing? he replies: We are passing the time. You will see that other vagabond loitering for whole hours at the corner of a street, looking at the passers-by, or speaking immodestly or on idle things. If you ask him: What art thou doing? he will reply: I am passing the time. Poor blind creatures who lose so many days, but days that return no more!
O despised time, thou wilt be desired above all things by worldlings at the hour of death. Then will they desire another year, another month, another day; but they will not obtain it. They will then be told there is no more time. How much would each of these then give for another week, another day, to put in better order the affairs of his conscience! “To obtain even one little hour,” says St. Laurence Justinian, “they would give all they possess–wealth, honours, pleasures.” But this hour shall not be given to them. Quickly, the priest who assists them will say, quickly depart from this world; there is no more time. “Depart, O Christian soul, from this world.”
Ah, my Jesus, Thou hast devoted Thy whole life to the salvation of my soul. There was not a moment of it in which Thou didst not offer Thyself for me to the Eternal Father, to obtain my pardon and my eternal salvation; and of the many years I have been in the world, how many have I spent in Thy service? Alas, all that I can remember having done, all fills me with remorse of conscience. The evil has been great; the good has been too little and full of imperfections, of lukewarmness, of self-love, and of distractions. Ah, my Redeemer, all has been thus because I have forgotten how much Thou hast done for me. I have forgotten Thee, but Thou didst not forget me; Thou hast pursued me while I fled from Thee, and hast so often called me to Thy love.
Therefore does the Prophet exhort us to remember God and to obtain His grace before the light fails us: Remember thy Creator…before the sun and the light be darkened. (Eccles. xii. 23). How great is the distress of a traveller who perceives that he has lost his way, when night has already set in, and it is too late to repair his mistake! Such at the hour of death will be his distress who has lived many years in the world, but has not lived for God: The night cometh, when no man can work. (John ix. 4). Death will then be for him that night in which he can no longer do anything: He hath called against me the time. (Lam. i. 15). Conscience will then recall to him how much time he has had, and he has spent it to the destruction of his soul; how many calls, how many graces he has received from God for his sanctification, and he has not chosen to profit by them; and then he will find the way of doing any good closed against him. Upon which he will weep and say: Oh, fool that I have been! Oh, time for ever lost! Oh, my lost life! Oh, lost years, in which I might have become a Saint, but have not; and now there is no more time! But of what avail will tears and lamentations be when the scene closes, the lamp is on the point of being extinguished, and the dying man is approaching that awful moment on which eternity depends?
Behold me here, my Jesus; I will no longer resist Thee. Shall I wait till Thou entirely forsakest me? No. I repent, my Sovereign Good, of having separated myself from Thee by sin. I love Thee, O Infinite Goodness, worthy of infinite love. Ah, do not permit me any more to lose the time Thou givest me in Thy mercy. Ah, remind me always, my beloved Saviour, of the love Thou hast borne me, and the pains Thou hast suffered for me. Make me forget all things, that during the remainder of my life I may only think of loving and pleasing Thee. I love Thee, my Jesus, my Love, my All. I promise Thee, whenever I shall call it to mind, to make acts of love of Thee. Give me holy perseverance. I confide wholly in the merits of Thy Blood. And I confide in thy intercession, O my dear Mother Mary.
(Wednesday Meditation for Third Week in Lent – by St Alphonsus Liguori)