January 1, 2014 - Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
Last year, on the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, I suggested five resolutions, things for us to ponder in the New Year.
Do you remember them?
Surrender to the fact that life isn’t fair.
Be happy where you are.
Mind your own business.
Fill your life with love.
And live each day as if it were your last.
So here are my five resolutions for this New Year:
FIRST: HAVE THE COURAGE TO LOOK REALITY IN THE FACE.
Let’s stop looking at the world through rose colored glasses.
Let’s stop looking at our lives as though we had blinders on.
Let’s make an honest assessment at the start of this New Year.
What are our strengths? Our weaknesses?
Where do we need to grow? What do we need to change?
What is the secret sin that you keep? Face it.
Don’t pretend things are okay when they aren’t.
Be open to what is. Surrender to what is.
Why is this so important?
Because much of our struggle is to try to control life,
to try to control others, to try to control the priest,
to try to control our parents, to try to control our spouses.
But life isn’t always the way we would like it to be, and it will never be perfect. So it’s important to face what is.
The greater our surrender to the truth of the moment, the greater our peace of mind.
SECOND: HAVE THE COURAGE TO BE CATHOLIC.
The Catholic Church in the United States is just now coming out of a state of crisis, the greatest crisis in its history.
Look reality in the face, the Catholic Church is a church of sinners.
Even our Holy Father understands that.
Our spiritual rhythms repeat these biblical themes:
failure, contrition, forgiveness, penance, reconciliation.
The church knows a lot about sin. The sexual abuse of minors by anyone is a sin. The failure of bishops to guard the flock from predators is a sin. The lack of fidelity on our part is also a sin.
The crisis is a crisis of discipleship.
Every Christian is called to walk the road of sanctity.
Every Christian is called to walk the road to holiness.
Every Christian is called to walk with Christ.
The answer to the crisis is deeper fidelity by everyone.
So have the courage to be Catholic.
THIRD: RESIST THE URGE TO CRITICIZE.
When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person. It merely says something about our need to be critical.
What does criticism do to make our world a better place? Zero! Nothing! Being critical doesn’t do any good. In fact, it contributes to anger and distrust.
So what’s the solution? We can catch ourselves in the act of being critical. And say to ourselves, there I go again. Then commit to change.
We can have the courage to face that reality and struggle them to become more positive, more charitable, more forgiving, happier.
FOURTH: HAVE THE COURAGE TO LET GO OF THE PAST.
What are we carrying around from our past?
Some of you are carrying awfully heavy loads.
I know I can see it in your faces. I can see it in certain behaviors.
We carry around some old, hurtful stuff.
At some point this year it would be good to have the courage to face reality and put down those hurtful, unpleasant things from the past.
Maybe you’re harboring a grudge against the church. Put it down!
Maybe you’re harboring a grudge against a priest. Put it down!
A family member, put it down! An abuser. Put it down!
An enemy. Put it down!
Let it go! Imagine yourself laying down the hurt at Jesus’ feet.
Then have the courage to leave it there.
AND FINALLY: EMBRACE THE FUTURE WITH HOPE. How?
By looking reality in the face.
By resisting the urge to criticize.
By letting go of the past.
And by having the courage to be Catholic.
Our faith makes us a people of hope, who believe with every fiber of our being that the best is yet to come.
So we embrace the future because we have not yet finished
the best part of your life.
We embrace the future by focusing not on tragedy, but on faith.
We embrace the future with hope because hope springs eternal.
And we embrace the future with love.
Happy New Year!