A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘new year

I’m not a huge fan of spending the better part of an hour clearing away snow right after breakfast. But I have a bulldog who won’t venture down the deck stairs if I don’t clear a good path, and so I can’t just clear the driveway.

In any case, I’ve always loved the way a fresh snowfall makes everything seem like a blank canvas, clean and new.

snowy park

The view from my living room today…

Kind of like the way a new year feels like a fresh start.

We’ve begun a new liturgical year with the start of Advent, and a new calendar year is just around the corner, hard as that might be to believe.

It’s the perfect time to look back at whether we achieved our goals, realized our dreams, or made changes for the better and to look forward to where we’d like to be one year from now. And that includes reflecting on our faith life.

Is this the year we learn more about what’s really in the Catechism or make a point of reading about the lives of the saints? The year we step into a new ministry role by becoming a lector or leading a sacramental preparation team? The year we try praying the rosary or take a class in Christian meditation? The year we make a pilgrimage to a holy site?

The year we spend more time actually living out our faith instead of talking about our plans for living out our faith?

Part of our Christmas preparations could include making the time to attend a reconciliation service and to ask God’s guidance about whether we’re following his plan for our lives or whether we need to make some course corrections.

I pray that, during this busy season, we would find moments for time in God’s presence as well as quiet reflection on the year nearly over and the one soon to begin.

The past few weeks have been packed with activity. Besides the regular routine, I took my son to a couple of appointments and a confirmation class, wrapped Christmas presents, stocked up on household staples for the holidays, and prepared for a music recital and a taekwon-do test. It’s been busy rather than stressful.

On Friday, I was feeling proud of myself for everything I’d accomplished: vacuuming, floor cleaning and snow shovelling, on top of my everyday chores. I was patting myself on the back…and then I remembered that God created light on the first day (see Genesis 1). It was a healthy dose of perspective!

The ridiculous thing is that I didn’t need to get all those things done that day. And I could have asked for more help from my son, even if it might have been given reluctantly.

Today, as I braved the crowds to get groceries and run a couple of errands, I needed this reminder once more:

Learn to let others do their share of the work. Things may be done less well, but you will have more peace of soul and health of body. And what temporal interest should we not sacrifice in order to gain these blessings?

~ St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, quoted in “Celebrate November 2013,” Catholic Digest

How often do we insist on wrapping Christmas presents and sending out cards ourselves because no one will do these tasks the same way we do? Or how about folding the laundry, loading the dishwasher or cooking meals? Do we wear ourselves out so chores are done “the right way,” or do we allow other people to bless us with their help?

If we still hesitate to share the load, we may need another reminder not to run ourselves ragged at the expense of our physical and spiritual health, this time from Sirach 30:15-16*:

Health and soundness are better than all gold,

and a robust body than countless riches.

There is no wealth better than health of body,

and there is no gladness above joy of heart.

As we carry out our last-minute chores, cleaning and Christmas preparations, may we acknowledge that our celebration need not be perfect—it needs to be focussed on celebrating our Saviour’s birth and on sharing God’s love with our loved ones, friends and neighbours. And may we carry with us into the year ahead the knowledge that we can accept others’ help.

Speaking of the new year, I’m taking a short break from this blog to spend more time with my family over the holidays, but I’ll be back on January 2nd!

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

  • In: Faith
  • Comments Off on Having an Epiphany

Although the new year is a few days old, until yesterday my house looked a lot like Christmas. I like to leave my decorations up until Epiphany and play some Christmas music while I pack everything up.

Somehow the house feels plainer after we box up the ornaments, even though it looks the same as it did before December 1st.

Bulldog with the January blahs

Some of us find January a bleak time…

In the same way, many people find January a bleak time. I tend to see it as full of possibilities—and those who really know me know that I’m something of a pessimist (although I like to think of myself as a realist).

True, a new year is just a new calendar page. We don’t really shake off all the cares and concerns we had on December 31st. And yet I always wonder whether there’s a class I could take, a craft I could try, a concert or an art exhibit I could see, or even some corner of the house I could organize better. As my mother has often said, “A change is as good as a rest.” So January usually finds me poring over course calendars for school boards and recreation centres and scanning the newspaper for notices of upcoming events or volunteer needs.

We all know the three most popular changes to make: quit smoking, lose weight, and get organized. But maybe another opportunity for change is waiting for us if we pray about it and listen to God’s answer. Read the rest of this entry »

The turkey dinner, presents and Christmas Day itself are now a happy memory. But the best part of the day was the peace.

Yes, everything was hushed in our neighbourhood—no traffic sounds, barking dogs or even shovels clearing the latest snowfall—since people were spending the day with their families instead of rushing off to work or go shopping. But I don’t mean peace and quiet. I mean the sense of peace that comes only at Christmas.

Christmas has always been my favourite time of year. I spend time with my family and we enjoy just being together, rather than running errands, nagging about chores, hurrying to make appointments, or dealing with the day-to-day. We’re at peace with one another and home is somehow happier.

In the community, people tend to be kinder and more generous to their neighbours and charities than at other times of the year. And more people attend church at Christmas to enjoy that sense of peace. My parish church was standing room only, both in the nave and in the church hall.

I wish every day could be like Christmas. Not for the presents, the preparations or the food, but that spirit of goodwill. I think that’s why many of us suffer from the “January blahs.” Read the rest of this entry »

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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