From a book by Father O’Reilly
“Not less important to the future welfare of your children, than anything you can teach them, is the priceless value you should accustom them to set upon time. Mothers — wealthy mothers in particular — cannot weigh too seriously and conscientiously how strictly the just Judge will call them to account for the use of the hours, and days, and years which are wasted in idleness, even though not misspent in vice and dissipation. There are some persons who live as though they never had been taught when young that the Great Giver of life, and time, and hourly opportunities, would surely exact of them one day a minute account of the use made of every sun that rose upon them, and of every hour that marks his course.
Mothers, such as we suppose our readers to be, cannot plead ignorance of their early knowledge of the sacred obligation of employing every moment of time to good purpose, and, surely, they will not allow son or daughter of theirs to be ignorant in so vital a matter.
It is in childhood, and in youth especially, that every day is of priceless value, when, in simplest truth, every precious hour well employed is a seed sown in the furrow, and covered over with the fostering earth, and blessed of God from on high to bring forth certain increase in due season. But every day and hour idled away or misspent in doing anything and everything but what one ought to do, is an opportunity thrown away for self-improvement, for progress in all true goodness, or, what is infinitely worse, given to the service of the arch-enemy of souls, and of their Almighty Creator.
Our lost days are dead leaves strewing the street along which we daily travel, lying as they fell, and never to bloom or live again. They are ” ears of wheat ” given us to sow for food of life eternal, and which we have not cast into the furrow, but thrown on the highway, to be ” trodden into clay.” They are ” golden coins ” confided to our husbandry, with which the Giver intended we should purchase eternity, and we have squandered them against his will! But they are ” still to pay.” . . . And presently, when youth has quickly passed, and old age is before us, like the dry-bed of a river out of which almost the last drop has been drained, we would fain go back to drink of these sweet waters of our life; but they are like ” spilt water ” thrown on the burning soil, and cheating the ever-thirsting throats of ” men in hell.”
We must not deceive ourselves: every moment of time is ourself living during that brief space, every hour and day, is our own soul filling that hour and that day with its deeds of good or ill.
You have heard of the ” transit” or passage of a star across the sun’s disk: astronomers watch it with their telescopes, and count by minutes and seconds the apparition of a little black speck on the bright round luminary, while it mores rapidly across it to the opposite side, to be apparently lost in the unmeasured heavens beyond. The span of our life, as compared with eternity, is like that bright broad face of the sun projected on the immensity of space behind it; and the stages of our passage through life are as brief and as rapid as the transit of yonder planet across the sun. At every minute and second it is ” myself ” who am moving before the eye of the all-seeing and all-remembering God. I enter life like one emerging from the boundless void behind me, and appear moving, moving across the narrow circle of my life during the few fleeting years given me to exist, and then I pass out of the sight of mortal man into that other limitless eternity beyond.
But brief as is my passage across the narrow sphere allotted to me, I can merit, while it lasts, to shine for ever ” from eternity to eternity,” or to disappear for ever from that heaven where my glory might have been commensurate in duration with that of the sun’s Creator. Yes, to God’s eye, every moment of my existence here below is ” myself passing over the circle of this life of trial,’ ‘ it is myself living for God, or forgetting Him, or working against Him, while the resistless motion of the heavens hurry me from my birth to my death; from time to eternity; from the use or abuse of the golden moments, and days, and hours, to tho terrible, unavoidable, and most righteous judgment of the Eternal God.
When “my time” is past, and that judgment is at hand, I shall look back upon the misspent years, each year shall be myself, looking my conscience full in the face,
“I am thyself —what hast thou done with me? And I – and I! ”
And what I have made myself, by actual deadly guilt unrepented of, God will adjudge me to remain unchanged and unchangeable throughout all eternity!
We have known men, born, alas! amid wealth, and nursed in the lap of unlimited indulgence, who, having grown up in vice, without any other god but their animal appetite, and without any apparent sense of responsibility for youth and manhood wasted in eating, drinking, and dreaming, would say to their own young children as these reproved them for their sloth: ” What sin am I committing. I am doing no one harm! ” Had they passed out of life, as these words were uttered, into the hands of Him who giveth to everyone according to hie way, and according to the fruit of his devices [Jerem, xvii, 10.] they would have known what is the terrible and irreparable guilt of a wasted life.”
O’Reilly, Bernard. The Mirror Of True Womanhood: A Book Of Instruction For Women In The World (p. 242). Kindle Edition.