As the calendar turns from 2012 to 2013, many will surely be wondering where the year went. How have you used the 365 days? How will you use the next year?
When he was a child, Father Marcos Gonzalez, pastor St. John Chrysostom Church in Inglewood, Calif., remembers seeing a large grandfather clock with the inscription Tempus fugit on top.
"When I asked my mother what that meant," he recalls, "she said, ‘Time flies.’ I was puzzled by this and asked what it meant. She told me: ‘Life is short. Use each day well.’ Ever since then, I’ve tried to keep that in mind."
That advice is a good reminder for the new year. Making the most of the time God gives us should be our top priority.
"It’s most important for people to realize that time is the most precious thing we have," says Jesuit Father James Kubicki, national director of the Apostleship of Prayer (ApostleshipofPrayer.org). "We live in time, so when we use time, we are using our most precious commodity."
We all should ask ourselves: Are we using our time as God wants us to?
"When we’re young, we think we have a lot of time," says Father Jay Finelli, pastor of Holy Ghost Church in Tiverton, R.I., who is also the popular podcasting priest at iPadre.net. But "time is like sand; it slips through our fingers."
The Catechism counsels the faithful to use time wisely: "Remembering our mortality helps us realize that we have only a limited time in which to bring our lives to fulfillment" (1007).
Although technology can be used as tools for study, evangelization and communication, we can also waste time on modern devices, points out Father Finelli.
Father Gonzalez concurs. "The fact is that if we do not pause and live a reflected life in which we pray and consider what God expects of us, then we are simply allowing the days to speed by without really using the time well."
In Scripture, the Psalmist petitions, "Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart" (90:12).
As Father Finelli puts it, "People need to look at their day first and foremost for their spiritual life. What are we doing for our life with God and Jesus? The priority has to be giving time to God. But we usually put him last. We really should spend time with the Lord now because we want to spend time with him for all eternity."
Making the most of time means "making the Mass the center of your day," suggests Pia de Solenni, a Catholic ethicist who comments on culture online at PiadeSolenni.com.
We should see "the Mass as the focal point and the pattern for our day," de Solenni says. "Whatever is going on in our lives we should see it in the context of the Mass. If we’re having a horrible day or a great day, we can see that in the sorrow or glory of the Mass. Our day-to-day life and the Mass are not to be two separate worlds."
Father Finelli offers additional ways to spend time with Jesus, such as praying the Rosary, reading the Bible, Catechism, saint biographies and Catholic books.
He says St. Thérèse of Lisieux is an important model for using time wisely, per her "Little Way" philosophy.
"That is the ‘way’ of doing everything — even the smallest task — for the love of God," he explains. "In a sense, we can use time in the same way. Every moment of our lives should be lived for the love of God."
Father Kubicki also recommends closeness to the Little Flower. "Every moment can play a part in building the Kingdom of God, in spreading the faith and in loving God. So whether we’re praying, doing housework, working to support our family, studying, playing, recreating, sleeping — whatever we’re doing, when it’s done as an act of love for God and for the salvation of souls, it plays an important part in building the Church."
Father Kubicki also notes the importance of reviewing one’s day in light of that goal: Did we miss opportunities to live the day fully for Christ?
Through such reflection, he says, "we can grow in holiness, and we will become more aware throughout the day of the precious moments we have that can be offered to God."
Both he and de Solenni point out that good recreation is part of using time well.
Indeed, the Catechism explains how Sundays and other holy days of obligation focus on "worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, the performance of the works of mercy and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body" (2185).
Take a walk, play golf, watch a good movie, converse with family and friends or listen to good music or other "things that relax us in healthy ways so that we are good instruments in God’s hands," says Father Kubicki.
Ordering one’s days with eternity in mind is what matters most. At the end of one’s life, Father Gonzalez relates, "I have heard many people regret that they did not pray enough, that they did not give God enough time, that they did not spend enough time with their children, their parents or other loved ones. Those are the things that we regret when we consider how we have spent the time God has given us.
"So when we consider how to make the most of time, it is wise to reflect on how well we are using the limited number of days we have on this earth. Are we using them well? Are we steadily growing in the spiritual life and in virtue and holiness? Are we bringing the love of Christ to those around us? Tempus fugit — time flies. Let’s use it well!"
As Venerable Fulton Sheen reminds us, "It is never true that we have no time to meditate; the less one thinks of God, the less time there will always be for him. The time one has for anything depends on how much we value it. Thinking determines the use of time; time does not rule over thinking! The problem of spirituality is never, then, a question of time; it is a problem of thought. For it does not require much time to make us saints; it requires only much love."
Joseph Pronechen is the
Register’s staff writer.