The Value of an Hour
1. There are twenty-four hours in a day, eight thousand seven hundred and sixty in a year. How have you spent all the hours which God has given you in the past? How do you intend to use the hours which He will give you in the future?
When you examine the past, you will find much to regret. Perhaps you have spent many hours in sin, in idle gossip, in useless or dangerous pastimes, or in innumerable business transactions, all of which will contribute nothing towards your eternal salvation, which should be your main concern in life.
How much time have you spent thinking of God, your Creator and Redeemer? How many hours have you devoted to prayer, thanksgiving, and penance? How many have you spent in apostolic work on behalf of your neighbour? It may be that the service of God and your spiritual welfare have so far been the least of your worries, on which you have expended no more than the few odd moments left over from your other preoccupations. You are well aware, nevertheless, that the purpose of life is to know, love, and serve God. You know that you ought to offer Him all your thoughts, affections, and actions, for He alone can make you happy.
2. This does not mean, of course, that we are obliged to spend all our hours engaged either in prayer or in penance or in apostolic work. God does not demand this much. The bow which is extended too far will snap. We need rest, sleep, and recreation. But the most pleasant hours should be those which we dedicate to the love and service of God. The hours, moreover, which we devote to our work, rest, or enjoyment, should be spent in the presence of God. From time to time we should think of Him and speak to Him. We should love also to interweave our conversations in a natural manner with spiritual reflections for the edification of our neighbour.
3. Let us now contemplate the fact that our eternity can depend on a single hour. Within an hour the repentant thief was converted and gained Heaven. In one hour Mary Magdalen, St. Paul, and many other Saints finally yielded to the grace of God and set out on the road to sanctity. There are vital hours in our lives, too. It will be disastrous for us if we ever let the hour of grace slip away neglected. Let us listen when God calls us and let us be generous with Him as He has been infinitely generous towards us. If we behave in this manner, we need never fear the hour of death. It will still be the hour on which our eternity depends, but it will be an eternity of everlasting happiness.