Making the most of our days

The Latin saying, carpe diem, has rolled around in my head recently, triggered by the untimely deaths of friends. It has made me more aware of how important it is to take advantage of today because once it is over it is gone for good. All we have is the present moment.

We all might do well to live by the hospice philosophy to live each of our last days to the full. Why not live everyday to the full? Don’t wait until you or someone else are ill.

I am reminded columnist Erma Bombeck who wrote an article that listed the things she would do if she could live her life over. She said things like she would stop to smell more flowers, listen more, spend more time with family and friends, help more people, pray more.

Those of us who are procrastinators should reflect on missed opportunities caused by putting things off. Too often, especially when someone dies, we hear people express regrets over what they didn’t do or say.

I can still hear my mother and several of my grade school teachers say, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I am not so sure whether the road goes to hell, but it can cause a lot of guilt.

To me, to seize the day means to take advantage of all the ways to show Christ’s love that come across our paths daily.

I heard a priest suggest in his homily that it is a good practice to reflect at the end of the day on how we did or did not take advantage of the opportunities to live the commandment of love that is given to us. It is a good examination of conscience.

Perhaps I purposely avoided a particular person because I knew she was going to chew my ear off or ask me to do something for her and I didn’t want to share my time. Maybe I could have stopped to help someone in trouble but didn’t want to get involved or was in a hurry to get somewhere. Perhaps I did not pick up or return a phone call because I knew that person was going to talk about his problems.

Seizing the day might mean to take the initiative to patch up one of my relationships. Maybe the Lord is calling me to be the first one to start the process of reconciliation. I might seize the day by connecting with a family member or an old friend I haven’t contacted for years. A fun way is to find people on Facebook. Another way to seize the day might be to make travel plans to visit elderly parents who live in another area.

Each day presents big and little ways to respond to God’s grace, to love our brothers and sisters no matter who they are or where they come from. This is our call as Christians. We must bring Christ to our environments, not just think about it.

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Tomorrow may never come. Learn to live each day as though it were your last. Young people rarely think about dying but death can come at any age.

Start today to resolve that relationship, to write that letter or make that call you have been putting off for such a long time. Don’t deal with the guilt that can come when it becomes too late to carry out those good intentions.

Carpe diem.

Sister Margie Lavonis is a Sister of the Holy Cross from Notre Dame, Ind. Contact her at mlavonis