Happy New Year! With the beginning of a new year, we recognize that all time is only possible by the grace of God. Thus we call 2017, and indeed each year, a Year Of Grace. So, welcome to the Year of Grace 2017! Grace can be likened to the power of God given freely to us. One writer from Catholic Answers (http://www.catholic.com/tracts/grace-what-it-is-and-what-it-does) called it a “supernatural kick in the pants.” With such grace available to us, consider making that part of your plan, your new year’s resolution, to encounter God’s grace with ever day that is given, for we certainly need it.
As we begin this year, we have hope that it will be a good year. We must also be aware that it will also bring great challenges. So, borrowing from a Facebook post (https://www.facebook.com/kyleld) by Fr. Kyle Doustou of the Diocese of Portland, Maine, here’s some suggestions for the new year:
• If you don’t pray, start. If you do pray, pray more. Beef up your devotional life.
• If you don’t fast, start. If you do fast, fast more. Strengthen your will. Get better at saying “no” to your appetites and passions.
• If you’re lax about Mass attendance, get your priorities straight. Go every Sunday and Holy Day – nothing is more important. Nothing.
• If you don’t go to confession, go. Regularly. Stop waiting. Stop making excuses.
• Get more intentional about knowing your faith. Study it. Learn it. Share it. Defend it.
• Spend more time at home with your family. Eat together. Work together. Play together. Pray together.
• Cut out the non-essentials. Simplify your homes and your lives.
• Give more of yourself (your prayers and your time, but also your money and your skills) to those who need help. If you don’t know who needs help, trot down to your local parish office – your priest can give you a list, I’m sure.
A relationship with Christ is not ethereal and it’s not simply an “internal” reality. It is something that is lived out, day by day, in mind, body, and soul. It is not a given and it can never be taken for granted. Now is the time.
So, may the Year of Grace 2017 be a time of encounter and growth in the Lord. May he enrich your life and vivify you so that the grace given you will shine like a light which draws all to Him!
Fr. William Holtzinger