WHEN I REFLECT ON Blessed Michael McGivney’s life, I am awestruck by what he accomplished in so short a time. Ordained in December 1877, he served but a dozen years as a priest before his death at age 38. In that brief span, Father McGivney transformed St. Mary’s Parish in New Haven into a thriving community; founded the Knights of Columbus and set it on a firm foundation; and then served as the devoted pastor of St. Thomas Parish in Thomaston, Conn., and the mission church in nearby Terryville. Father McGivney packed more than a lifetime of work into little more than a decade.
The lifespans of saints and blesseds vary greatly. St. Teresa of Calcutta lived to be 87, and her service to the poor and impact on the Church are incalculable. On the other hand, Blessed Carlo Acutis succumbed to leukemia at age 15, yet he possessed a holiness and wisdom beyond his years. “Our aim,” he wrote, “has to be the infinite and not the finite. The infinite is our homeland. We have always been expected in heaven.”
Several months ago, I reached 70 years of age. As that significant birthday approached, the famous lines from Psalm 90 came to mind: “Seventy is the sum of our years, or eighty if we are strong” (Ps 90:10). I meditated on the brevity of life and on how holy men and women wisely use whatever time God gives them. That led to an examination of conscience as to how I have used the time that God has given me.
‘Whether they lived a long or a short life, I think God’s holy ones all had a keen sense of the preciousness of time, and thus they used the time they were given well and wisely.’
As we grow older, our perception of time changes. Our bodies slow down but time seems to speed up. We lose that sense of invincibility we had when we were young, and we face the sobering fact that time is passing by quickly. Tempus fugit. We tend to ask ourselves what we have accomplished in life, or how our family and friends will remember us, or what sort of divine judgment we will face. These are sobering questions. For some, they are cause for discouragement. For others, they are like a shot of adrenaline, a boost of energy propelling them to the finish line.
Most of us would like to think that, when all is said and done, we have lived a productive, well-planned life. Even so, we should not avoid assessing our lives as we head into our golden years. For as we grow older, we can see more readily how our life forms a pattern, and we can discern in that pattern what is good, true and beautiful — and what is not. Moving forward, we should turn to the saints and blesseds to see how we might best use whatever time God plans to give us.
Whether they lived a long or a short life, I think God’s holy ones all had a keen sense of the preciousness of time, and thus they used the time they were given well and wisely. Father McGivney, whose health was not robust, probably did not expect to live the 70 years allotted by the psalmist. So he directed every moment of every day to his parishioners, to his beloved Knights and to the Church. His well-ordered days included time for personal prayer, for the celebration of Holy Mass and the sacraments, for interaction with his parishioners and his fledgling Order. His secret? In the grace of the Holy Spirit, he infused every moment, even the most ordinary moments, with the love and truth of Christ.
We can do the same — whether we are at prayer, at home with our families, at work or involved with the Knights of Columbus. We should avoid wasting time. More important, we should pray for the wisdom to sense the infinite and eternal kernel in every moment of time. When we live the principle of charity, our short lives take on eternal significance. While still on earth, we can start living — and sharing — the infinite joy of God’s kingdom.
Logos & Emblems
Fraternal Leader Advisory
Knights in Action
Share your Knights in Action News
Please contact the
Knights of Columbus News Bureau