Let’s be honest here. There’s really not much that’s “new” that we can look forward to in 2011. In fact, when the clock struck 12:00 a.m. on January 1, we dragged a whole lot of the “old” into our “new” year.
Old habits. Old behaviors. Old attitudes. Old biases. Old prejudices. Old grudges. Old problems. For those of us who are “older” in age, we also dragged in our old (and deteriorating) bones, muscles, eyes, ears, teeth, and layers of fat.
So what is it that we’re supposed to be celebrating anyway? What can we honestly look forward to in 2011 that is about to “come into existence”?
A few months ago, our 11 year old washing machine started making some loud grinding noises, so we called a repairman. He looked at the machine and told Georgette that the transmission needed to be replaced. The cost of replacing the transmission was going to be over $300. It was obvious that we needed to replace the entire washing machine instead of the transmission, so Georgette and I went to Sears and bought a “new” washing machine.
We buy “new” things every day, such as kitchen appliances, cars, televisions, computers, shoes, clothes. But are those items really “new”? Have they only “recently come into existence”? Although the new things we buy are made from new parts, they really aren’t “new” to us. They’re just replacements for things we’ve owned in the past.
In this new year that we call 2011, what can we look forward to that is really “new”?
Last week on Christmas day when Georgette and I were with our children and grandchildren, I announced to my two married daughters, Anna and Maria, that I expected two “new” babies in 2011. I said it in a joking way, since both of them had babies that were born in May and June of 2010.
Think about it. Nine months before my two “new” grandchildren were born, their souls “came into existence.”
Modern medicine can explain how the body of a new baby comes into existence. It all starts when the sperm unites with the egg. But there is no scientific or medical explanation for the creation of the “new” soul that is infused into the “body” of the baby at the time of conception.
For the couple who has the right attitude and disposition, nothing changes their lives in a more positive and dramatic way than the birth of a “new” baby.
A week before Christmas, my son Harry got engaged. Later on this year when he and his bride say “I Do,” a new and special union will “come into existence.” Through the sacrament of Matrimony, they will become one in the eyes of God. Later when they have a baby, a baptism will be performed. At the moment the prayer is said and the water is poured on the baby’s head, an eternal relationship will “come into existence” between the soul of the baby and Jesus Christ.
So what do all of these events have in common: the creation of a soul, the (valid) marriage of a man and a woman, and the baptism of a baby? All of them require the direct intervention of God. It is only through God’s active participation and grace that these events can occur.
Buying a new washing machine (or any other product), starting a new business, or getting a new job does not necessarily require the direct intervention of God. We have the ability to buy a product or create a job for ourselves by simply exercising an act of our own free will.
But we have no power on our own to create a soul, unite a man and a woman in matrimony, or baptize a baby. Without the direct and active intervention of God, the completion of those events is impossible.
I’ve come up with my own definition of the word “new,” which does not include material things, but instead, includes things that are “new” in the eyes of God. Here’s my definition of “new”:
Anything that comes into existence
that helps a person to grow closer to God
The creation of a soul helps a person to grow closer to God. All of the sacraments – Baptism, Confession, Holy Communion, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick – help a person to grow closer to God. Prayer helps a person to grow closer to God. A sacrifice offered up to God helps a person grow closer to God. The performance of a corporal or spiritual work of mercy helps a person to grow closer to God.
Every act I just mentioned requires the exercise of the free will of the person performing the act, along with the active participation of God. Each of these acts comes into existence through God’s grace. By the very nature of the act itself, one or more people grow closer to God. Consequently, each of these acts is genuinely “new” in the eyes of God.
At St. Philomena’s we just opened up our newly built adoration chapel. Inside the chapel is Jesus Christ – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. He is physically present in the Eucharist. Every hour of every day, He is present. Even though you can’t see it with your own eyes, His love, grace and mercy constantly flow into your heart and soul from where He sits in the monstrance.
Do you have the desire to build a “new” life for yourself? If you do, then the place to start is in the “new” chapel. Jesus is waiting for you there. Right now.
The most important resolution you can make for 2011 is to spend at least an hour of your time each week with our Lord. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t make an excuse as to why you can’t do it right now. A “new” beginning awaits you. You cannot get started on your own, because a genuinely “new” life requires the active intervention of Jesus Christ. He is, after all, the only true “light of the world.”
Resolve to make this a real “New” Year by dedicating one hour of your time each week to prayer in the adoration chapel. (That’s only one hour out of the 168 hours that you have available each week).
If you’re willing to commit to a weekly holy hour, you’ll be on your way to creating numerous opportunities for “new” grace to transform your life. Happy “New” Year!