St. Francis of Assisi used to say: “Brothers, let us begin; because up until now we have done nothing.” Americans don’t like to hear that kind of talk. They would rather translate it to something like this: “Brothers, you may have done pretty well up until now; but there is not a single one of you who could not do much, much better in the time that is left to you.” In the spiritual life we never stay just the same. We either go ahead and progress or we fall behind and regress.
Yes, we live in the present moment but with an eye to the future as the poet expressed it: I was regretting the past and fearing the future when I heard the Lord’s voice: “When you live in the past with its sins and sorrows, I am not there. My name is not ‘I was’. When you live in the future with its fears and uncertainties, I am not there. My name is not ‘I will be’. When you live in the present moment, I am there. My name is ‘I am!’” The present moment is all that we have, an unrepeatable gift; and it is always a present from our God. It is our treasure.
What we do is important. How we do it is more important. Most important is why we do it. We can put a perfect equal sign between ourselves and our motivation, our intentions, our reasons for doing things; and on this do we realize and experience our reward. There is nothing more “me” than my motivations. We may pride ourselves on our “know-what” and our “know-how”; but the primary focus of our God is our “know-why”. Nothing pleases our Lord more than the heart that is pure, seeking to please Him, doing His Holy Will at all times.
Make your choices! Establish your priorities! Whatever smacks of sin and temptation blast out of your life. Whatever is dangerous or a waste of time, eliminate! Use your time wisely and well. Make a promise: I will not waste a moment of my time the rest of my life. Yes, we must relax and recreate and sleep. We need diversion to stay healthy and mentally sound. But do everything in your life with God in mind, conscious of His Presence, recollected. Use those tiny aspirations like breathing to embrace Him: “Come Holy Spirit, come!” He will always be there with His light and His strength.
This is what it means to love God with our whole mind, heart and soul. This is impossible for us to achieve without the thought of Jesus Crucified because so much of our life is saturated with suffering: our own and that of others. We cannot make any sense out of our lives without the strength that comes from the Cross of Jesus Christ. He will be with us not necessarily to take the hurts away but to be with us in our suffering. Don’t trade what we want most for what we want now. Jesus Crucified is the only one worth living for and suffering for…and dying for. He is our all. He can still make us saints! – if we cooperate with His grace.