“Tempus fugit, memento mori” is a Latin phrase that was formerly used by Trappist monks to greet one another. It means “Time flees, remember death”. The phrase is moderately more sobering (and helpful) that our colloquial “time flies when you’re having fun”. Lent is passing rapidly; we are only seven days away from Holy Week, which culminates in the sacred Paschal Triduum. The concrete occasions the Lord presents to us daily in order to help us enter into this penitential time are running out. We began lent with the gospel reading in which Christ exhorts his disciples (meaning you) to fast, pray and give alms. Jesus presumes that these acts are being done by the Jews following him and therefore doesn’t have to say “Hey, you stingy child of God, give some alms! Be generous like your Father is.”, or “Hey, have you seen enough Netflix? Are you done binge-watching? Maybe prayer will give you some peace!”, or “Hey, must you always eat your fill? Try a modicum of asceticism for love of Christ.” Fasting, prayer and almsgiving were among the pious practices that the Jewish people practiced weekly. We may have strayed from them, but we can regain them. Vices are earned through the repetition of bad acts; the first stings a bit, but the more we do it, the easier it becomes to sin. Likewise, virtues are gained through habitual acts of virtue. The first is very difficult, the second less so, until eventually acts of virtue come almost second nature.
Tempus fugit. If lent doesn’t inspire us to embrace these salutary practices, we can’t expect that the joyful Easter season will prompt us to take them up. We don’t have much time left, a mere two weeks. So, memento mori. Everything that seems so important to us right now, all the things we ‘must’ do during our day pales in comparison to the preparation we need for the hour of our death. The graces offered to us by the Lord come at a small price. God is patient, he extends the invitation and allows us the freedom to accept or reject it. If we have been loath to respond these past few weeks God doesn’t judge, he simply extends the invitation once more. Will you respond?