“HE HATH CALLED AGAINST ME THE TIME.”
Some one will, perhaps, say: “I am young. Later on I will give myself to God.” “How can you promise yourself another day,” says St. Augustine, “when you know not whether you shall live another hour?” “If,” says St. Teresa, “you are not prepared to die today, tremble lest you die an unhappy death.”
Someone will, perhaps, say: I am young. Later on I will give myself to God. But remember that the Gospel tells us that Jesus Christ cursed the fig-tree which He found without fruit, although the season for figs had not yet arrived. It was not the time for figs-(Mark xi. 13). By this the Saviour wished to signify that man at all times, even in youth, should produce fruits of good works; and that otherwise, like the fig-tree, he shall be cursed, and shall produce no fruit for the future. May no man hereafter eat fruit of thee any more forever -(Mark xi. 14). Delay not to be converted to the Lord, and defer it not from day to day for his wrath shall come on a sudden-(Ecclus. v. 8). If you find your soul in the state of sin, delay not your repentance nor your Confession. Do not put them off even till tomorrow; for, if you do not obey the voice of God calling you today to confess your sins, death may this day overtake you in sin, and tomorrow there may be no hope of salvation for you. The devil regards the whole is come down unto you having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time-(Apoc. xii. 12). The enemy, then, never loses time in seeking to bring us to hell: and shall we squander the time God has given us to save our souls? You say: “I will hereafter give myself to God.” But “why,” answers St. Bernard, “do you, 0 miserable man, presume on the future, as if the Father placed time in your power?” Why do you presume that you will hereafter give yourself to God, as if He had given to you the time and opportunity of returning to Him whenever you wish? Job said with trembling that he knew not whether another moment of his life remained: For I know not how long I shall continue, and whether after a while my maker may take me away-(Job Xii. 22). And you say: I will not go to Confession today; I will think of it tomorrow. St. Augustine says: “How can you promise yourself another day when you know not whether you shall live another hour?” “If,” says St. Teresa, “you are not prepared to die today, tremble lest you die an unhappy death.”
O my God. I give Thee thanks for giving me time now to bewail my sins, and to make amends by my love for all the offences I have committed against Thee.
St. Bernard weeps over the blindness of those negligent Christians who squander the days of salvation, and never consider that a day once lost shall never return. At the hour of death they shall wish for another year, or for another day; but they shall not have it: they shall then be told that time shall be no more-(Apoc. x. 6), What price would they then not give for another week, for a day, or even for an hour, to prepare the account which they must then render to God? St. Laurence Justinian says that for a single hour they would give all their property, all their honours, and all their delights. But that hour shall not be granted to them. The priest who attends them shall say: Depart, depart immediately from of our life as very short, and therefore he loses not a this earth; for you time is now no more. “Go forth, O Christian soul, from this world”
What will it profit the sinner who has led an irregular life to exclaim at death: Oh, that I had led a life of sanctity! Oh, that I had spent my years in loving God! How great is the anguish of a traveller who, when the night has fallen, perceives that he has missed the way, and that there is no more time to correct his mistake! Such shall be the anguish at death of those who have lived many years in the world, but have not spent them for God. The night cometh when no man can work -(John ix. 4). Hence the Redeemer says to all: Walk whilst you have light, that the darkness overtake you not-(John xii. 35). Walk in the way of salvation, now that you have the light, before you are surprised by the darkness of death in which you can do nothing. You can then only weep over the time you have lost.
He hath called against me the time-(Lam. i. 15), At the hour of death conscience will remind us of all the time we have had to become Saints, and which we have employed in multiplying our debts to God. It will remind us of all the calls and of all the graces God has given us to make us love Him, and which we have abused. At that, awful moment we shall also see that the way of salvation is closed forever. In the midst of this remorse, and of the torturing darkness of death. the dying sinner shall say: 0 fool that I have been! 0 life misspent! 0 lost years in which I could have gained treasures of merits and become a Saint! But I have neglected it, and now the time of saving my soul is gone forever! But of what use will these wailings and lamentations be, when the scene of this world is about to close, the lamp is on the point of being extinguished, and when the dying Christian has arrived at that great moment on which eternity depends?
O my God, what will become of me in the last moment of my life? 0 Jesus, Who didst die for my salvation, suffer me not to be lost for ever! Suffer me not to lose Thee, my only Good. No, my God, I will not lose Thee. If I have hitherto forfeited Thy friendship, I am sorry for it, and I sincerely repent of it. I will never lose Thee more.
O my God, enlighten me! Give me to understand that the only evil is to offend Thee, the only good to love to spend the remainder of my days in serving Thee. 0 Mary, my hope, do thou intercede for me.