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Meditation for the Morning
Let us adore Jesus Christ as the supreme Judge to whom we must render an account at the judgment day of all the moments of our pilgrimage upon earth. Let us adore Him recommending us by the mouth of the Wise Man not to lose the smallest particle of one sole day; and let us ask of Him to enable us to employ our time so well that all our days may be days full of merit and of good works (Ps. 72:10). Let us therefore beg Him with this object in view to make us understand the six ways in which time is lost, so that we may not fall into any of the snares by which so many souls are lost.
First Manner in which Time is Lost
We lose time, first, by doing nothing. All the faculties of the soul seem to be numbed; we think of nothing, we do not know what to do with ourselves and with our time; or, if we do think of anything, we occupy ourselves with useless reveries, with vain projects and chimerical plans. If we are not sufficient to ourselves, we spend whole hours from morning to night in idle talk, in games and amusements, in visits which have no object,
in walks without any aim, in all the pastimes which idleness can invent, and we utterly waste all our moments (Prov. 18:9). Have we no reproaches to address to ourselves on this head?
Second Manner in which Time is Lost
We lose time, in the second place, when we employ it in doing what is wrong. Such is the sin of those who pass their time in reading novels, theatrical pieces, or other books in which morals are but little respected; in criticizing our neighbor and speaking evil of him, in frequenting society which is dangerous, in going to certain soirées where seduction enters into the soul through all the senses, in meditating projects of vengeance, hatred, or injustice, in listening to the inspirations of Satan, who insinuates bad thoughts and evil desires into the soul. What does our conscience say to us on this head?
Third Manner in which Time is Lost
We also lose time in performing actions which are indifferent in themselves, that is to say, which have nothing reprehensible about them in themselves, or in the manner in which they are performed, but which are done mechanically and without any fixed object, or from some fixed object, but one which is simply human and purely natural; for example, we eat only because we are hungry, or because it is the hour at which we take our meal; we betake ourselves to rest because we want to sleep; to repose or to recreation because we are tired; to conversation because it amuses us; we go to see such or such a rare and remarkable object because it feeds our curiosity. Evidently all this is devoid of merit, because it is all done without a view to God. What a loss and what a misfortune! In order to render one of these acts worthy of heaven nothing is wanting but a direction of intention. What reproaches have we not to address to ourselves here!
Fourth Manner in which Time is Lost
We lose time when we perform good actions, but which are not in the order of our duties. It is the fault committed by those who forget that the duties belonging to their position must hold the first place, who, having no rule for their conduct, do everything at a wrong time, nothing at a fixed hour; they often think of what they ought to do, and then nearly always decide upon doing what they ought not to do; they occupy themselves with offering long prayers at church when their duties call them to their homes; they employ themselves in pious exercises or good works when they ought to be occupying themselves with household affairs; they watch when they ought to sleep, sleep when they ought to rise, pray when they ought to work, or work when they ought to pray. Do we not recognize ourselves by these characteristics?
Fifth Manner in which Time is Lost
We also lose time in performing good works which are in the order of our duties, and this may happen in two different ways: First, when we are in a state of mortal sin; for in this state all works are dead works, incapable of meriting anything for heaven. All the good works we do may doubtless dispose God to grant us His grace to bring us back to Himself, but they are of no value in regard to salvation; Second, when instead of referring our good works to God, we perform them from vanity, to make ourselves remarked and esteemed; when we act under the influence Of caprice or fancy, when in doing good, for example, giving alms to the poor, we are influenced solely by a purely human, a purely natural pity. Let us here examine ourselves. What merits have we not lost, in this manner, because we act without any reference to God, for our own satisfaction, our self-love, or our vanity, and what treasures should we amass in heaven if at each action we said to God: Lord, it is to please Thee I do this; all for Thy love.
Sixth Manner in which Time is Lost
Lastly, we lose time by performing with a right intention the good which is in the order of our duties, when we do not do it at the time, in the place, in the manner, and accompanied by the other circumstances which God demands from us. This is the case with certain souls which spoil the good they do by the bad grace with which they perform it; by the wrong time at which they do it; by the disagreeable words with which they accompany it; or some other unfortunate circumstance which they do not take care to put aside. If in these cases all merit is not lost, the sum total of it is at least greatly diminished. What a vast field for examination!
Resolutions and spiritual nosegay as above.