by Cheryl Ann Smith

“Now! The time is now!” This was the passionate plea from Patrick McConville, our brother staff worker, to seminarians a couple of years ago.

Three of us from this house had been invited to speak at their Lenten retreat, but by the time Patrick’s turn arrived, there were only three minutes left of the allotted time.

He had already written the word now! on pieces of paper to give to the seminarians, so he took his three minutes to hand them out and deliver this word: “Start now to love and surrender to God, to pray and deepen your commitment to him. Don’t delay!”

Last week we hosted two of the seminarians who had been on that retreat. I had wondered what they had made of Patrick’s simple and brief presentation, and I quickly found out.

One had tucked the now piece of paper in his Bible, and the other had pinned it up in his room as a reminder and a catalyst for sharing with others.

Also visiting last week was a priest who years earlier had given a powerful retreat in the same seminary. Although he had an hour in which to speak, his message was the same: develop a deep prayer life now, because when you become a parish priest, you may be too busy to begin.

In this past week, I’ve pondered Patrick’s message and recognized my own need to heed it. In so many ways I put off the essentials: I’ll start fasting in the New Year … in Lent … when I turn 40. I’ll let go of my many distractions in Advent … in the fall … when I turn 50. I’ll truly seek God alone when the Christmas holidays are over … the Easter holidays … when I turn 60.

True interior peace only comes from a heart surrendered to God’s love. Why delay? Seek him with all your heart now!