“Our Entire Lives are but a Moment Soon Gone” is a chapter in the book Saint Vincent de Paul: His Mind and His Manner by Jack Melito, C.M. which was published in 2010 by the Vincentian Studies Institute, DePaul University, Chicago, IL. The book is currently out of print.
Saint Vincent de Paul lived a long life and accomplished an extraordinary body of works of charity, not only in Paris, but throughout France and beyond. How did he have such an impact? This reading suggests that it was Vincent’s focused sense of urgency in his appreciation of time. Long life itself was not as important as using our time fulfilling that mission to which God has called us.
Toward the end of his life, Saint Vincent de Paul reflected on his use of the time given him: had he used it to the best of his ability? Was each precious moment lived in service of the poor? It was his appreciation of the economy of time and his prudent use of his time that drove him to accomplish such a great opus omnia of charitable works.