THE VALUE OF TIME
Son, observe the time (Ecclus. iv. 23).
Time is a treasure of inestimable value because in every moment of time we can gain an increase of grace and eternal glory. If the Blessed in Heaven could grieve they would do so for having lost so much time; and in hell the lost souls are tormented with the thought that there is now no more time for them. Son, observe the time.
Son, says the Holy Ghost, be careful to observe the time, the greatest and most precious gift which God can bestow upon you in this life. The very Pagans knew the value of time. Seneca said that “no price is an equivalent for it.” But the Saints have understood its value still better.* According to St. Bernardine of Sienna, a moment of time is of as much value as God; because in each moment a man can, by acts of contrition or of love, acquire the grace of God and eternal glory.
*The holy writer himself, St. Alphonsus, made a vow, “never to lose a moment of time.”
Time is a treasure which can be found only in this life: it is not to be found in the next, in hell or in Heaven. In hell the damned exclaim with tears: O that an hour were given to us! They would pay any price for an hour of time in which they might repair their ruin, but this hour they will never have! In Heaven there is no weeping; but were the Saints capable of weeping, all their tears would arise from the thought of having lost the time in which they could have acquired greater glory, and from the conviction that this time will never again be given to them. A Benedictine nun appeared after death in glory to a certain person and said she was perfectly happy, but that if she could desire anything it would be to return to life and to suffer pains and privations in order to merit an increase of glory. She added that for the glory which corresponds to a single Ave Maria, she would be content to endure till the Day of Judgment the painful illness that caused her death.
O my God, I thank Thee for the time which Thou givest me to repair the disorders of my past life. Were I to die at this moment the remembrance of the time I have lost would be one of my greatest torments. Ah, my Lord, Thou hast given me time to love Thee and I have spent it in offending Thee! I deserved to be sent to hell from the first moment in which I turned my back upon Thee, but Thou hast called me to repentance and hast pardoned me. I promised to offend Thee no more and how often have I returned to sin! How often hast Thou pardoned me my ungrateful relapses! Blessed for ever be Thy Mercy! Ah, how sorry I feel for having offended so good a God!
Walk whilst you have the light (Jo. xii. 35).
How are you spending your time? Why do you always defer till tomorrow what you can do today? Remember that the time past is no longer yours: the future is not under your control: you have only the present for the performance of good works. Why, O miserable man, says St. Bernard, do you presume on the future as if God had placed time in your power! How can you who are not sure of an hour, promise yourself tomorrow? asks St. Augustine. If, then, says St. Teresa, you are not prepared for death today, tremble lest you die an unhappy death. Walk whilst you have the light.
We must walk in the way of the Lord during life, now that we have the light; for at the hour of death His light is taken away. Death is not a time for preparing, but for finding ourselves prepared. Be ye ready (Luke xii. 40). At the hour of death we can do nothing: what is then done is done. Behold now is the acceptable time (2 Cor. vi. 2). In the lives of the Saints there is no tomorrow. Tomorrow is found in the lives of sinners who are ever saying: Hereafter! Hereafter! And in this state they continue till death.
My Saviour, the patience alone with which Thou hast waited for me ought to enamour me of Thee. Ah! do not suffer me to live any longer ungrateful for the love Thou hast shown me. Detach me from every creature and draw me entirely to Thyself. O my God, I will no longer waste the time Thou givest me to repair the evil which I have done. I will spend it all in serving and loving Thee. Give me holy perseverance. I love Thee, infinite Goodness, and hope to love Thee for ever. I thank thee, O Mary. By thy advocacy thou hast obtained for me the time which is given me. Assist me now, and obtain for me the grace to spend it all in loving thy Son, my Redeemer, and in loving thee, my Queen and Mother.