These temporal years pass away; the months are reduced to weeks, the weeks to days, the days to hours, and the hours to moments, which are all that we possess, but which we possess only in proportion as they perish.
The more perishable our existence, the more amiable ought it to be to us, since this life being full of miseries, we should have no greater consolation than to know that it rapidly vanishes to give place to a holy eternity, which is prepared for us in the abundance of the mercy of God, and to which our soul incessantly aspires by continual thoughts arising from its own nature, though it cannot hope to arrive there but by other thoughts more exalted, with which the Author of nature inspires us.
Indeed, I never consider eternity without much sweetness; for, I say, how can my soul extend its thought to this infinity, unless there is some kind of proportion between it and eternity? But when I feel that my desire runs after my thought, my joy takes an incredible increase; for, I know that we never desire, with a true desire, anything but what is possible.
My desire then assures me that I can possess eternity: what remains to me more than to hope that I shall possess it? And this assurance proceeds from the knowledge I have of the infinite goodness of Him, who would not create souls capable of thinking on, and tending to, eternity, without giving them the means of attaining to it.
Let us then often say: Everything passes, and after the few days of this mortal life, an infinite eternity will come. Little does it matter whether we have conveniences or inconveniences here, provided that for all eternity we are happy.
A great soul sends all its best thoughts and affections forward to the infinity of eternity, and being immortal, it esteems too short all that which is not eternal, too small all that which is not infinite, and arising about the delights, or rather the vile amusements, of this life, it keeps its eyes steadily fixed on the immensity of eternal goods, and the vastness of eternal years.
Oh, how desirable is eternity, at the cost of miserable and perishable vicissitudes! Let time flow by, with which we flow on to be transformed into the glory of the children of God.
Alas! When I consider how I have employed God’s time, I am in pain lest He should not give me His eternity, since He gives it only to those who use His time well.
O God! The years pass aways, and run as a thread imperceptibly one after another; dividing our existence, they divine our mortal life, and ending, they end our days.
Oh, how incomparably more amiable is eternity since its duration is without end, and its days are without nights, and its contentments are without variation! How much I desire that, in a high degree, you may possess this admirable good of a holy eternity! What a happiness for my soul, if God, showing its mercy, grants it also this consolation!
This article is taken from a chapter in Consoling Thoughts on Sickness and Death by St. Francis de Sales which is published by TAN Books.