We begin a new Year of Grace as we restart the liturgical calendar of the Church. We will encounter the same saving events accomplished by Jesus Christ. We will meet the same figures who have inspired, challenged, and startled us in the past. We will enact the same rituals and speak the same words, signs and symbols and words that have been used for generations to give us access to the grace which transforms us and gives us strength.
St. Paul writes to the Corinthians, “You are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” What he writes to them is no less true for us today! Our journey in time, marked by the days of the liturgical calendar, allow us to be opened up to those eternal spiritual gifts which we need at the present moment. Regarding the Eucharist, Jesus commanded us, “Do this in memory of me.” One spiritual author remarked that we could easily translate this, “Make me present in your now.” This memory which unfolds day by day through our calendar year makes Christ present to us here and now: a Presence that is far from static, a Presence that carries with it every spiritual gift we need to be the Catholic Christians we claim to be.
As accustomed as we are to make “New Year’s resolutions” on Jan. 1, even more so for us Catholics in this New Year of Grace would spiritual resolutions benefit us. St. Paul’s words from today’s second reading might do well to guide us in fashioning these resolutions:
Give thanks to God always: A heart filled with gratitude does not have room for envy, jealousy, anger, frustration, discontent. Find a way each day to name the blessings which God has given you and thank God for those gifts. Learn to thank God for the trials as well as the consolations. Write them down. Keep them near and refer to them throughout the day.
Be enriched by discourse: Change the way you speak to others and about others. Stop allowing yourself to be influenced by the uncivil discourse prevalent in society today. When was the last time you spoke of spiritual things and shared your faith with others? When we initiate conversation and help guide it to those things which build up and not tear down, we enrich not only ourselves but those around us.
Be enriched by knowledge: Study what you believe! Read the Sacred Scriptures – the Bible is not a decorative piece to be kept on a shelf. Take time each day for spiritual reading. The lives of the saints and their writings are a good place to garner inspiration.
Wait: Stop demanding that you have everything at your whim and pleasure. Maybe Advent is the time for you to click off “On Demand,” either on the television or in those other aspects of your life at work and at home when you think you don’t have to wait. It is good for us to remember that we are not the center of the universe, we are not the master of all things, we are not in charge. Intentionally make yourself wait. This is also where fasting is a great help!
Keep firm: Buoy yourself up by making your resolutions concrete, known, and written down. We tend to waffle on those choices which demand real change in us. To help yourself keep firm, write them down and put them around your workspace, on your bathroom mirror, in the refrigerator, wherever you will see and be reminded to keep firm.
Answer the call to fellowship: If every spiritual gift comes to us by our closeness to Christ, then we need to make sure we are seeking those opportunities which put us in proximity to Him! Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, either in its formal way or just simply by making a visit to the tabernacle, allows for the physical proximity we need to answer the call to be in communion. When was the last time you simply spent time with Christ in adoration and prayer?
(Father Joshua R. Brommer is the pastor of the Cathedral Parish of St. Patrick in Harrisburg and Director of the Diocesan Office of Divine Worship. This reflection appeared in the parish bulletin for Dec. 3, and is reprinted here with permission.)
By Father Joshua R. Brommer, Special to The Witness