Oh, how much depends on the last moment of our life, on our last breath! An eternity of delights or an eternity of torments! A life of happiness or a life for ever miserable! What folly, therefore, for the sake of a short, wretched pleasure to run the risk of dying a bad death and entering upon a life of misery that will never end.
If you were now at the point of death, already in your agony and almost breathing your last, and about to appear before the Divine Tribunal, what would you not wish to have done for God? And what would you not give for a little more time to make your salvation more secure? Woe to me, if I did not make use of the light that is now given me, and amend my life! He hath called against me the time. (Lam. i. 15). The time which is now granted me by the mercy of God will be a great torment and a subject of bitter remorse to me at the hour of death, when time for me shall be no more.
O Jesus, Thou didst spend Thy whole life for my salvation, and I have been many years in the world, and yet what have I hitherto done for Thee? Alas! all that I have done gives me only pain and remorse of conscience.
Child of God, the Lord now gives you time; be then resolved. In what way will you spend it? What do you wait for? Do you wait to see that last candle which will show you your neglect, and for the time when there will be no remedy? Do you wait to hear that “Go forth” which must be obeyed without demur?
O my God, I will no longer abuse the light Thou affordest me, but which I have hitherto so much abused. I thank Thee for this fresh admonition which may be the last Thou wilt ever give me. But since at present Thou thus enlightenest me, it is a mark that Thou hast not yet abandoned me, and art desirous of showing me mercy. My beloved Saviour, I am sorry above all things for having so often despised Thy graces and neglected Thy calls and inspirations. I promise with Thy help nevermore to offend Thee.
O God, how many Christians die in the greatest uncertainty as to their salvation, and tormented with the thought that they have had time to serve Thee, and are now come to the end of their life, and no more time is left them for any good works! They are sensible that now all that remains to them is to render a strict account of the many graces and inspirations bestowed upon them by God, and they know not what to answer.
O Lord, I will not die in such torments. Say what Thou requirest of me, make known to me the way of life in which I should walk, and I will obey Thee in all things. Hitherto I have despised Thy commands, but I am now sorry for it with my whole heart, and love Thee above all things. O Mary, refuge of sinners, recommend my soul to thy Divine Son.
(Tuesday Meditation for the Fourth Week of Lent – by St Alphonsus Liguori)