I take this opportunity to wish all readers of this blog a happy New Year. May you know the blessing of God in your life during 2013. It will undoubtedly bring its share of joys and sorrows, successes and failures, triumphs and tragedies. My prayer for each of us is that we never forget that, whatever the future holds, with the Eternal God as our Refuge, “underneath are the Everlasting Arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27). He loves us, and if we are open to him he will continue to sustain us, lead us, guide us, and fill us with his love.
I have chosen three pieces to share with you at the outset of 2013:
THE NEW YEAR
by Catherine Doherty
(Go HERE for background information on Catherine Doherty)
I keep thinking and meditating on the New Year, and thinking about the world in general; it kind of haunts me.
God hands us a shiny beautiful New Year. That is to say, he gives us time. I wondered: what are we going to do with this time? To each one of us God has given time—time to love him. It’s strange that in the Christian countries the New Year comes at the time right after Christ’s birth.
Stop and think of the Incarnation (Christ God becoming man), which leads to his crucifixion, which leads to his resurrection, all wrapped up in a little package of this Child—a crib in a stable. And then, as if the Child himself handed it over, he turns to me and to you and he says, “Here is a new year, shiny, coming from my hands. What are you going to do with it?”
The greatest thing we can do is to love. There is nothing else that matters, really. So why don’t we begin? Many of us already love our neighbour, love ourselves and our neighbour, but we have to extend that love.
Time really does not exist. I come from the mind of God—he had me there from all eternity, and I go to the Way (who is Christ) to the heart of God; and the Holy Spirit helps me to keep on the narrow path, the Way that Christ says he himself is.
When we talk Christianity or Christ to one another, whoever we are, wherever we are on the threshold of the New Year, something has to break into our hearts. Our Lord enlarges our heart, if we desire to enlarge it, to love more and more and more.
Will our love end in crucifixion? It’s obvious that when you and I totally forget the pronoun ‘I’, then we are crucified; and those who are crucified are free. This is a strange and mysterious thing. It’s one of the mysteries that God puts into our hearts.
If we agree to go to Golgotha, a little hill on which he was crucified, there is another side to the crucifix. Immediately the crucifix ceases to really be a crucifix as we understand it—that is to say, pain and all the rest of it—and it becomes a joy. In a sense, we can wish everyone a joyful New Year—provided we have opened our heart to Joy; we have mounted Golgotha; we have agreed to be crucified with Christ; and by doing so we have entered into his Resurrection.
By entering into his Resurrection, we have suddenly found ourselves totally free—free from all the things that affected us only yesterday. Free to love everyone, including our enemies. Free to lay down our lives for our fellowman.
This all sounds highfaluting, big ideas, but in everyday life, it is simplicity itself. Never think of yourself, day in and day out. You have to do an unpleasant job, but you do it joyfully, because whatever you do, you do for God. Joy lifts us up and makes us run toward whatever task is given to us; to what we call “the duty of the moment”.
The mother gets up, and the father, to nurse the baby and quieten it at night, but it goes a little further. It may go to a little neighboring child who cries. I lived in Chicago, on West Walton Place, which had been cut up into little apartments; we had a little apartment and one was above us. You could hear what happened. One evening, lying there and not sleeping very well, I kept hearing the patter of young feet and I knew that only a mother with her child lived up there. The child was about eleven or twelve. I met her going to school. Something worried me about this patter of feet. I got up and went upstairs and knocked at the door and said, “It’s the lady from downstairs”. “Oh,” she said, “I’m so glad it’s you”, and she opened the door. “I don’t know what’s happened to my mother. I don’t know what to do. She doesn’t wake up.” Well, her mother was dead!
Love is a strange thing. The patter of little feet. The cry of a child. The cough of an old person or a young one can disturb us, and should disturb us, and we should say, “Oh, I am responsible for everyone.” Dorothy Day, one of the great American saints-to-be, wrote in her Catholic Worker why we should not buy grapefruits (this was in the Depression) because the people who gathered grapefruits received such a small salary that they could not live on it. I am responsible. Do you realize that this beautiful New Year that God has put into your hands means that you are your brother’s keeper, and so am I?
It’s deep stuff; it’s bottomless, because it means that God is saying, “Enter my heart. It is in this heart of mine that you will know how to live out this beautiful year that I have given you ‘to have and to hold’”.
So let us be our brother’s keeper; and let us not forget that Christ is our Brother too. Not only in everyone, but in himself. And if we really want to learn how to love, we should go into his heart this year.
- by Thomas Merton
(Go HERE for background information on Thomas Merton)
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself . . .
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But, I believe this:
I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
I hope I have that desire in everything I do.
I hope I never do anything apart from that desire.
And, I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road . . .
though I may know nothing about it at the time.
Therefore, I will trust you always
for though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death,
I will not be afraid
because I know you will never leave me
to face my troubles all alone.
- from I have seen what I was looking for : Selected Spiritual Writings, Ed. B. Pennington. (New City Press, Hyde Park, N.Y. 2005)
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High,
who abides in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand;
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.
Because you have made the LORD your refuge,
the Most High your habitation,
no evil shall befall you,
no scourge come near your tent.
For he will give his angels charge of you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder,
the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.
Because he cleaves to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him,
and show him my salvation.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.