If this were the last day of the calendar year, we know that we would be caught up in seeing the old year out, and sharing our hopes for the coming year. Whether we do so in a family setting with the television or radio for company; or whether we go out and indulge in some New Year’s Eve revelry, the sentiments are very much the same for all of us: “where did the time go?”, “what were the highlights of the year?”, “how we will miss John (or Mike, or Mary),” or others who have died in this year. In the light of the coming year, we traditionally lay out some “new year’s resolutions.”
This December 2nd is the last day of our “Liturgical Year.” We are standing on the threshold of a new Liturgical Year, which will begin with the First Sunday of Advent, tomorrow, December 3rd.
What was my spiritual journey like this past year? What progress did I make, what graces did I receive, what discernment brought me to major decisions for myself? What challenges did I face…and overcome? In what ways have I become a more engaged Christian, anchoring my life on the person of Jesus Christ? What has been the quality of my Christian witness to my family, to my workplace, to my circle of friends?
Dare I even raise the question of “new year resolutions?” Do I have a vision of the year ahead as an invitation to grow in the spiritual life? Will I be able to convert some of the disappointments of the past year into challenges for the coming year? Will those people who love me and count on me for support and guidance be rewarded for placing such hope in me?
When I speak to retreat groups about the sacrament of reconciliation, I try to emphasize the universality of one question against the long-list of possible sins, the standard “examination of conscience.” I ask people to certainly confess any mortal sins of which they are aware; and then stop…proceed to just one more question: “What is it that God expects of me, that I am not fulfilling?”
Both of our readings today remind us that all time is transient; all kingdoms are doomed to failure, with one exception, the power and authority of our God, who invites us to share in an eternity of fellowship. Because we do not know the day or the hour of that final summons, we live in hope and in the assurance that Jesus will call us home at the right time for each one of us.
So as the yearly cycle resets to “Day 1,” and the Church prepares to celebrate the Incarnation of the Son of God, my new year’s resolution could be to ask myself each day, “What is it that God expects of me, that I am not fulfilling?” The answer to that question can be the starting point for a new day, every day of the New Year.
Happy new liturgical year!
Fr. Arthur Carrillo, C.P. is the director of the Missions for Holy Cross Province. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.