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Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Year's Eve Reflection

It is the eve of a new year. Television and radio shows chronicle this past year and decade that creates a sentimentality about the passing of time. We take stock of our successes as a society and we mark the time by remembering meaningful moments. In the face of these images, we are completely powerless to the forces of time. As Christians, we live in the duality of the “now” and the “not yet.” All we really have is the choices we make in the present.

I am marking the final moments of the year in a simple way. I just arranged a bouquet of bright, colorful flowers that I bought when I returned from Mass and I am sifting through the Christmas cards I have received to pray for and to honor friends and loved ones. I am grateful for their kinds words and graciousness. I am humbled by the goodness of so many friends and fellow pilgrims in my life. I am also packing the final items of my belongings as I prepare to move to tertianship in Australia. It is quite odd to be emptying my life of many possessions to pack a suitcase for life in a place that is halfway around the world.

I find myself praying for an increase of peace in the world, but I get stuck on knowing what peace really means to others. We have so much conflict in our personal lives that it is no surprise that we have so much conflict in our world. My prayer is that we can learn how to enter into our conflict in a healthy enough way that we are marked by integrity that brings about a peaceful contentment. When we deal with our personal issues, we are much more likely to be outwardly aware of the needs and concerns of others. I want to have more of the peace that Christ can bring.

I also find that I am praying for openness to growth. When our attitudes, whether in our church life or personal life, turn to contemplate the possibilities and opportunities available to us, we risk undergoing real personal growth that frees us for the world and for others. Notice many of the comments that arise from attitudes that shut down or block out terrific opportunities. They come in various forms, and a person might not even be aware that he or she is saying “no.” What stops us from engaging with these possibilities? – fear? loss of control or authority? ego? We grow into the person God wants us to be when we take that leap of faith that makes us say “yes, I’ll give this a shot. I’ll see what I can learn from another.” May I become more open to the promptings that the Lord is invited me to accept.

If I am more of a peace-bringer and peace-maker and I keep myself open to the possibilities of true growth, I believe that the Lord will help me to become a priest who is a more loving person. I realize the great lengths at which I still have to go, but it is at least a direction to which I am turned. The happiness we exude when we are loving people is a very attractive quality. The church will become stronger when we show to the world our exploding gladness because of what God has done for us through Christ.

What is my prayer for the people of God? – that we come to know Christ and the power of his resurrection. I want people to learn how to pray in a maturing style that fits their unique situation. This is new for many. I would love people to read scripture and its commentaries that shed important light on our tradition. It is a very rich and exciting tradition. Be open to the possibility of making the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola – in whatever form best fits you. When we place our lives in the context of God’s desire for us we see a vast array of more promises that we could imagine. I think it is a journey worth taking.

It is a new year. Come along and explore the possibilities Christ wants to show you.


  1. Good luck and many blessings to you on your tertianship in Australia. Funny how cyberspace connects! We do not know each other, but I am tangentially connected-- as a member of a Jesuit parish in Oceanside, New York. I also know David MacCallum who, I guess is a year or so ahead of you in the community. He was at my parish back in 2001 after his ordination.
    Godspeed. :)

  2. Okay, so I just realized that you already completed your time in Australia... as the kids say, "my bad." Many blessings to you and your companions on the journey in 2011!

  3. Happy New Year, MCH. I know David. He is a very good guy, as you well known. Tertianship was great as was all of 2010. Thanks for your good words.