Our God is a God of second chances; always ready to forgive us and open up the door for a newer and better future. The founder of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, Venerable Father Bruno Lanteri, coined a classic phrase: “Nunc copei” loosely translated, “Now I begin!”
As the sun rises on the horizon of a new year it is time to rewind the clock of the year that expires and give thanks for God’s countless gifts—“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; for His mercy endures forever.” However, it is an opportune moment to review, admit, and try to correct our mistakes The Word of God reminds us: “The just man falls seven times a day.” Only God is perfect; we are perfectible through God’s grace and our generous efforts.
Therefore, in this short essay, we would like to present a few suggestions to start off the New Year so that it will be the best year of our life!
Meditate upon Matthew 25: A suggested reading to motivate us to undertake generous proposals and to implement them in our lives would be the prayerful reading and meditation of Mt. 25. Jesus, the best of teachers, presents us with three Parables: the wise and foolish virgins awaiting the groom, the Parable of the talents (some used well, others neglected); finally, the Parable of the Last Judgment. The final word is did we really try to live out the Gospel of love, discovering Jesus in the poor and running to their aid!
The following are five concrete suggestions on how we can live the New Year to the very maximum of our potential. This New Year will be the best year of our lives! May God be with us!
1. Christocentric. St. Paul tells us clearly with these words: “Whether you eat or drink, do all for the honor and glory of God.”
St. Ignatius’ famous dictum: A.M.D.G—All for the greatest glory of God. May we start our day, begin all major actions and end our day with the sole purpose of pleasing God in all we do! Why not chose this Biblical expression and try to live it out to the fullest: “To love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength…” (Lk. 10: 27)
2. Permanent Formation of Faith. This new year, why not plan to grow in the knowledge of your faith? Resolve to read at least a half an hour a day some solid spiritual masterpiece.
Suggestions? The Bible, Catechism of the Catholic Church, St. Thomas and St. Augustine, the Fathers of the Church, the Doctors of the Church, Papal writings. Why not start with Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel” (Evangelii Guadium). Even though the Year of Faith concluded, our personal faith formation never ends.
3. Be a Barnabus. Why not this coming year be a Barnabus—meaning a son of encouragement. During the course of this year do all you possibly can to be a source of encouragement to all you meet, but especially start at home. Charity begins at home. A smile, a compliment, a word of encouragement, a kind gesture of service—all of these can go a long way in helping our brothers and sisters to carry their crosses. Avoid complaining; rather praise and give thanks! St. Paul reminds us that the consolation that we have received we should share it with others. Why not be a Simon Cyrene or a Good Samaritan on the highway of life?
4. Offer it up. St. Louis de Montfort once said: “What a cross it is to not have a cross.” He would also bless his friends with these words: “May God bless you and give you many small crosses.” Upon starting some enterprise, St. Ignatius would always see it as God’s will if it were accompanied by some form of cross. Crosses will visit you! Why not learn to accept the small crosses of daily life and offer them up. This means, unite your cross with the cross of Jesus. If done, your crosses will be an infinite source of sanctification. As the saying goes: either the cross makes you better or bitter!
5. Embrace Mary’s Maternal Presence. At the end of the Rosary we pray the Hail Holy Queen, starting with these words: “Hail Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope…” St. Louis de Montfort states unequivocally that Mary is the quickest, shortest and easiest path to arrive at God. Jesus came into the world through Mary and we should choose Mary as the pathway to Jesus. Listen to the sublime words of honor given to Mary in the Diary of Mercy in my soul, From Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: “To give worthy praise to the Lord’s mercy, we unite ourselves with your Immaculate Mother, for then our hymn will be more pleasing to you, because she is chosen from among men and angels. Through her, as through a pure crystal, your mercy was passed on to us. Through her, man became pleasing to God; through her, streams of grace flowed down upon us. (Diary # 1746) In this New Year may we seek to secure these two secure sources of refuge: the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus the Lord and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.