Lenten Meditation 17: The Value of Time

1. Time is a treasure of inestimable value, because in every moment of time we may gain an increase of grace and eternal glory. In hell the lost souls are tormented with the thought, and bitterly lament that now there is no more time for them in which to rescue themselves by repentance from eternal misery. What would they give but for one hour of time to save themselves by an act of true sorrow from destruction! In heaven there is no grief; but if the blessed could grieve, they would do so for having lost so much time during life, in which they might have acquired greater glory, and because time is now no longer theirs.

I give Thee thanks, O God! for giving me time to bewail my sins, and to make amends by my love for the offences I have committed against Thee.

2. Nothing is so precious as time; and yet how comes it that nothing is so little valued? Men will spend hours in jesting, or standing at a window or in the middle of a road, to see what passes; and if you ask them what they are doing, they will tell you they are passing away time. O time, now so much despised! thou wilt be of all things else the most valued by such persons when death shall have surprised them. What will they not then be willing to give for one hour of so much lost time! But time will remain no longer for them when it is said to each one of them: Go forth, Christian soul, out of this world: hasten to be gone, for now there is no time for thee. How will they then exclaim, lamenting, Alas! I have squandered away my whole life; during so many years I might have become a saint; but how far am I from being such; and shall I become such, now that there is no more time for me!

3. Walk whilst you have light [John 12:35]. The time of death is the time of night, when nothing can any longer be seen, nor anything be accomplished. The night cometh, in which no man can work [John 9:4]. Hence the Holy Spirit admonishes us to walk in the way of the Lord, whilst we have the light and the day before us. . . . Let us not delay, but immediately put our accounts in order, because when we least think of it, Jesus Christ will come to judge us. At what hour ye think not, the Son of man will come [Luke 12:40].

Shall I delay until I am cast into that eternal prison, where, with the rest of the condemned souls, I must forever lament, saying, The summer is past, and we are not saved [Jer 8:20]. No, my Lord, I will no longer resist Thy loving invitations. Who knows but that this meditation which I am now reading may be the last I shall ever cast my eyes upon! I am sorry for having offended Thee, O sovereign good! To Thee do I consecrate the remainder of my days, and beseech Thee to grant me holy perseverance. I desire never more to offend Thee, but forever to love Thee. O Mary, refuge of sinners! in thee do I place my confidence.

Text from St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Way of Salvation and Perfection, ed. Eugene Grimm, 2d ed. (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1886).

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