On The Use Of Time

I mentioned briefly on New Year's Eve that in the vespers at the close of the year, B16 discussed the use of time. That homily's still not in English, but at least there's a text now. With my first-grade level Italian I render the relevant sentences as:
This evening we put in the hands of the heavenly Mother our chorus of thanksgiving to God for the many benefits he has graciously granted us during the preceding twelve months. The first emotion born spontaneously in the heart this evening is praise and thanksgiving to the One who gives us the gift of time, the precious opportunity to do good. We join this gratitude with a request for pardon for perhaps not always putting this gift to good use.
The right use of time was a perennial theme for the founder of the Legion of Christ and he has a lengthy letter to his followers on the topic that I love. Reflecting on the parable of the talents he writes,
Meditation on this parable has always suggested to me that one of the main "talents" God gives us is precisely that of time. My attention is strongly drawn to the fact that very few people realize that this is so. People give a great deal of importance to being able to develop their intelligence, or their artistic or sporting abilities, to knowing how to use their possessions to serve others, etc. However, they do not give the same importance...to knowing how to use zealously the time that is ours to use. Yet I am convinced that when we appear before the Lord, one of the first points which we will have to account for will be the use we have made of the time that was ours.

Later on he cites St. Paul to the Galatians, "Don't deceive yourselves; God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man sows, that also shall he reap....Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due time we shall reap if we faint not."
These were not just words of warning. They were above all encouragement to lead a worthy life, urging them with the hope of the harvest they would receive. ....My opinion of a successful person in life is one who knows how to use the few years he has been given to assimilate as deeply and perfectly as possible Christ's teachings in the Gospel; who passionately commits himself to know and love Christ by renouncing his whims and his selfish and sensual passions; who discovers with clarity the mission he has to fulfill in this world and devotes his energies, his faculties, his person, all his being, to it, choosing responsibly --with his eyes wide open-- to set aside all that might hinder or slow down the achievement of this fundamental objective.

Such a degree of life is only possible when it is supported by a deep faith and a living and unwavering hope in God. This faith and hope will make you place God alone at the top of your desires, expectations and certainties, transcending the beauty of the things you have on earth which is so real and gratifying, yet so fleeting and perishable. ...God alone, my dear members, God alone is the purpose of your lives.

Blogger Ann Voskamp has a nice post along these same lines --although she takes a more practical approach and tells us literally how to get to the important stuff in the day. And if you're thinking in the new year that Christians better wake up --and maybe for some of us that means literally-- here's instruction on how to make yourself into a morning person. Most of what Voskamp says is kind of self-improvement old hat --you know it already but need reminding-- but I liked this, at least for those of us who ply our trades at home or mostly at home:
For some inexplicable reason, I am easily fooled into thinking most jobs are serious undertakings--so I avoid beginning. But 15 minutes is the way every job begins.
She offers a list of things that can be done in 15 minutes, eg. When I was living with consecrated virgins in Rome, they used to list "five minutes free time" on the schedule. I was scandalized at first, thinking that was a little uptight; but by the end of a month I was astonished by what I could accomplish in five minutes. Now my sleep-deprived mommy self needs to relearn that a bit, I think. What I mostly want to accomplish in five minutes is a nap! Alas, that is in no saint's spirituality. I keep looking for the one whose path includes eating fresh strawberries on a silk tuffet, but in vain.

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