On Fridays, I post excerpts from the writings of the great American bishop and media evangelist, Ven. Fulton J. Sheen. I call them #FultonFridays.
A world of difference exists between the old and the young in their attitude toward time. As St. Peter said in one of his first Pentecostal sermons, “The young men see visions; the old men dream dreams.” By this he meant that the old look backward; the young look forward.
With the passing of each new year, time goes more quickly; but with youth, time proceeds slowly. Hence, the young live in the future and in hope and promise. Lacking experience, they are apt to think that the emotions and pleasures and thrills of youth continue all through life.
Hence when a new year rolls around, the aged are amazed that time passed so quickly. The young would like to give time more wings in order that it might speed both their pleasure and their hope.
Both are apt to forget that time is a part of eternity. Just as our present moment has a memory behind it and a hope in front of it, so too time is like one circle that is locked in another circle, or better still, time and eternity are like two hearts carved by lovers on an oak tree as if to give perpetuity to their love. Each new year is actually a testing and proving ground for eternity, a kind of novitiate in which we say “aye” or “nay” to our eternal destiny, a season of plenty from which we shall later on reap either wheat or weeds.
A New Beginning
The beginning of a new year is an opportunity for improvement. It makes little difference what the past has been, for we are not to look back to see if the furrow be crooked. What matters most is the sanctification of the now moment.
Time is so precious that God doles it out second by second. If life in the past has been evil, the new year is an opportunity for penance. In such a way is time redeemed. If life, however, has been virtuous, the new year is an opportunity for greater self-perfection.
Good or evil?
One man who led an evil life always boasted of the fact that he needed never to worry about his soul when time would end, for he could save it with three words which he quoted in Latin: “Miserere mei Deus.” He was right about saying three words at the moment of death, but they were not the words he expected to say, for his life had not been so lived as to pronounced them from his heart. As his horse threw him over the cliff he said, “Capiat omnia diabolus,” which means, “I’ll be damned.”
Time is equivalent to what can be done or gained by it. At the beginning of the new year, therefore, we wish everyone that it be happy because we know that their is no greater melancholy sadness than to use time for any purpose but the supreme one, which is the salvation of the soul.
From “Bishop Sheen Writes” in the Toledo Blade, 1958