Jan 22, 2019
Dear Sisters & Brothers,
Whether you operate on the calendar year, the liturgical year, the school year, the fiscal year, or some altogether other calendar, the beginning of a new year is always special. Even though one day may look much like the next to the outside observer, and we ourselves would not know the exact moment of transition without some sort of device to clue us in, we nevertheless get a feeling of new beginnings. We like to celebrate the passing of the old year and coming in of a new one, and most people also like to make “New Year’s Resolutions” no matter when they celebrate that “new” year. We see it as a time to leave behind the past and start anew. It is an opportunity to remake ourselves, to get rid of bad habits and begin some healthy ones. The fact that these resolutions seldom last a month, doesn’t really seem to deter us from making them time and time again. As they say, “Hope springs eternal!” And even if you missed the beginning of this “new” year, it is never too late to make some of those resolutions.
After all, that is what our faith is all about. No, not New Year’s Eve parties, but rather, new beginnings! Or as we Redemptorists like to say, “With Jesus there is Plentiful Redemption!” No matter how many times we have failed, whether we have back-slid once again, we can always seek Reconciliation with our Lord. No matter how many times we ask for mercy, mercy is always ours for the asking. There are no “last chances,” no “final ultimatums.” For our loving Father longs for us to return to Him.
Over twenty years ago, we began celebrating Watch Night on New Year’s Eve. One of the most significant elements of those celebrations were the “Movin’ On Declarations.” I have even incorporated them into a parish mission I developed, and people love them. There is something very cathartic about watching that piece of paper burn and at least a symbol of one’s trials & tribulations turn to ash. Even if you didn’t get to fill out a form this year, it is never too late. Just hold your own little ceremony. Try typing them on a computer and then just use the backspace key to delete them. Or simply offer them to God in prayer. The point is to turn them over to The Lord. Acknowledge the things in your life you need to change and decide to make a new beginning. And if you fail, just begin anew. The point is to keep trying. None of us is perfect, but the Saint is the person who never gives up, who keeps on struggling no matter how often they must get up again and begin anew. And it is a lot easier to be a saint if you have someone to lean on, someone to help you up, someone to encourage you. It is why we gather Sunday after Sunday, to walk this journey together.
One final thought, I am sure I am not alone when I listen to MLK’s speeches and think sometimes, how little progress we seem to have made. But then I remind myself that it is not so much a question of distance, as much as it is one of direction. We just have to make sure we are headed in the right one and never give up, never turn around. “Onward Christian soldiers,” ever onward!
In the Redeemer,
P.S. On behalf of my family and myself, I want to thank each of you for your prayers and condolences during this difficult time. I have walked this path with many parents and it is never easy, but having to do so with my sister has indeed been a challenge. I am ever so grateful to have your support.