St. Alphonsus De Liguori

Time is Now No More
"The desire of the wicked shall perish!"

Oh, how clearly are the truths of Faith seen at the hour of death! But then they only serve to increase the anguish of the dying Christian who has led a bad life, particularly if he has been consecrated to God, and has had greater facilities for serving him, more time for exercises of piety, more good examples and more inspirations.

O God! What torture will he feel in thinking and saying: I have admonished others, and my life has been worse than theirs. I have left the world, and have cherished attachment to worldly pleasures and vanities.

What remorse will he feel in thinking that with the lights which he had received from God a pagan would become a saint! With what pain will his soul be racked when he remembers that he ridiculed in others certain practices of piety, as if they were weaknesses of mind; and that he praised certain worldly maxims of self-esteem, or of self-love, such as: It is necessary to seek our own advancement; We ought to avoid suffering, and indulge in every amusement within our reach.

"The desire of the wicked shall perish" [Ps. CXI, 10]. How ardently shall we desire at death the time which we now squander away? In his dialogues, St Gregory relates that a certain rich man called Crisorius, who had led a wicked life, seeing at death the devils who came to carry him off, exclaimed: "Give me time, give me time until tomorrow!" They replied: "O fool! Do you now seek for time? You have had so much time, but have wasted it and have spent it in committing sin; and now you seek for time. Time is now no more." The unhappy man continued to cry out and call for assistance. To his son Maximus, a monk, who was present, he said: "O my son, assist me! Maximus, come to my aid!" With his face on fire, he flung himself furiously from one side of the bed to the other: and in that state of agitation, screaming aloud, like one in despair, he breathed forth his unhappy soul.

Alas! During this life, these fools love their folly, but at death they open their eyes, and confess that they have been fools. But this only serves to increase their fear of repairing past evils; and dying in this state, they leave their salvation very uncertain.

My brother, now that you are reading this point, I imagine that you too say: "This is indeed true." But if this is true, your folly and misfortune will be still greater, if after knowing these truths during life, you neglect to apply a remedy in time. This very point which you have read will be a sword of sorrow for you at death.

Since, then, you now have time to avoid a death so full of terror, begin instantly to repair the past; do not wait for that time in which you can make but little preparation for judgment. Do not wait for another month, not for another week. Perhaps this light which God in His mercy gives you now may be the last light and the last call for you. It is folly to be unwilling to think of death, which is certain, and on which eternity depends; but it would be still greater folly to reflect on it, and not prepare for judgment. Make now the reflections and resolutions which you would then make; they may be made now with profit--then without fruit; now, with confidence of saving your soul--then, with diffidence as to your salvation.

A gentleman who was about to take leave of the court of Charles V, to live only to God, was asked by the Emperor why he thought of quitting the court. The gentleman answered: "To secure salvation, it is necessary that some time spent in penitential works should intervene between a disorderly life and death."

O my God! I will no longer abuse Thy mercy. I thank Thee for the light Thou now givest me, and I promise to change my life. I see that Thou canst not bear with me any longer. I will not wait until Thou either dost send me to hell, or dost abandon me to a wicked life, which would be a greater punishment than death itself.

Behold, I cast myself at Thy feet; receive me into favor. I do not deserve Thy grace, but Thou hast said: "The wickedness of the wicked shall not hurt him in whatever day he shall turn from his wickedness." I then, O my Jesus, I have hitherto offended Thy infinite goodness, I now repent with my whole heart, and hope for pardon, I will say with St Anselm: "Ah! Since Thou hast redeemed me by Thy blood, do not permit me to be lost on account of my sins." Look not on my ingratitude, but have regard to the love which made Thee die for me. If I have lost Thy grace, Thou hast not lost the power of restoring it to me. Have mercy on me then, O my dear Redeemer! Pardon me, and give me grace to love Thee; for I purpose henceforth to love nothing but Thee. Mary, my hope! obtain for me from God perseverance and the grace to love Him; and I ask nothing more.