NEGLECT OF TIME
He hath called against me the time (Lament. i. 15).
All the time that is not spent for God is time lost. At the hour of death worldlings will wish for another year, another month, another day — but they will not obtain it. They shall then be told that for them time shall be no more. Ah, my Jesus, I have been so many years in the world, and how many have I spent for Thee?
There is nothing more precious than time, but there is nothing less esteemed and more despised by men of the world. This is what St. Bernard deplores when he says: “Nothing is more precious than time, but nothing is regarded more cheaply.” The Saint adds: “The days of salvation pass away, and no one reflects that the day which has passed away from him can never return.” You will see a gambler spend nights and days in play. If you ask him what he is doing, his answer is: “I am passing the time.” You will see others standing several hours in the street, looking at those who go by, and speaking on obscene or on useless subjects. If you ask them what they are doing they will say: “We are passing the time.” Poor blind sinners who lose so many days! Days that never return!
O time despised during life! you will be ardently desired by worldlings at the hour of death. They will then wish for another year, another month, another day; but they will not obtain it: they will then be told that time shall be no longer. How much would they then pay for another week, or another day, to settle the accounts of their conscience? To obtain a single hour, they would, says St. Laurence Justinian, give all their wealth and worldly possessions. But this hour shall not be given.
Ah, my Jesus, Thou hast spent Thy whole life for the salvation of my soul. There has not been a single moment of Thy life in which Thou hast not offered Thyself to the Eternal Father to obtain for me pardon and eternal glory. I have been so many years in the world, and how many of them have I spent for Thee? Ah! all that I remember to have done produces remorse of conscience. The evil has been great, the good very little, and all full of imperfections and tepidity, of self-love and distractions. Ah, my Redeemer! all this has arisen from my forgetfulness of what Thou hast done for me. I have forgotten Thee, but Thou hast not forgotten me; when I fled from Thee, Thou didst follow me, and call me so often to Thy love.
The Prophet exhorts us to remember God and to procure His friendship, before the light fails. Remember thy Creator … before the sun and the light be darkened (Eccles. xii. 1). How great the distress and misery of a traveller who, when the night has come, perceives that he has missed his way, and that there is no time to correct his mistake. Such at death will be the anguish of the sinner who has lived many years in the world, and has not spent them for God. The night cometh, when no man can work (Jo. ix. 4). For him death shall be the night in which he will be able to do nothing. He hath called against me the time. Conscience will then remind the worldling of all the time that God has given him, which he has spent in the destruction of his soul; of all the calls and graces that he has received from God for his sanctification, and these he has voluntarily abused. The sinner will then see that the way of salvation is forever closed. Hence he will weep and say: O fool that I have been! O time lost! O life misspent! O lost years, in which I could have become a Saint, but have not! And now the time of salvation is gone forever. But of what use are these sighs and lamentations, when the scene is about to close — the lamp on the point of being extinguished — and when the dying sinner has reached that awful moment on which eternity depends?
Behold me, O Jesus! I will resist no longer. Shall I wait till Thou abandon me? I am sorry, O Sovereign Good! for having separated myself from Thee by sin. I love Thee, O infinite Goodness, worthy of infinite love. Ah! do not permit me ever again to lose the time which Thou in Thy mercy givest me. Ah! remind me always, O my beloved Saviour, of the love Thou hast borne me and of the pains Thou hast endured for me. Make me forget all things, that, during the remainder of my life, I may think only of loving and pleasing Thee. I love Thee, my Jesus, my Love, my All! I promise to make acts of love whenever Thou remindest me. Give me holy perseverance. I place all my confidence in the merits of Thy Blood. I also trust in thy intercession, O my dear Mother Mary!