Each year around this time, reality hits with a dull thud. Decorations have been taken down and stored away. Living rooms have that bare, denuded look that only the departure of a festive tree can create. Those much-anticipated gifts – the ones that haven’t been returned, that is – have already lost their luster.
“No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”
-1 Corinthians 10:13
Our faith, our confidence, and our hope must be placed in God. How, then, do we apply this in the face of challenges?
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Lack of forgiveness blocks the grace of God in our lives. It brings death–spiritually, emotionally, and often, physically. Examine your life. Where do you need to forgive? Pray for the grace to do so.
“Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of
the Lord is at hand.”
To evangelize effectively, we must be patient. When we look around us to our family and friends, do we impose our Faith on them? Or do we, instead, propose it through our testimony and the example of our life? How beautiful it is to patiently sow the seeds of truth in the hearts of others, water the seeds with prayer and friendship, and wait for the seeds to take root. This process can take time, but we must be willing to invest the time, confident that the Lord’s work will be accomplished in the end.
“Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.”
-Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2271
Human life is sacred. How do we allow this Church teaching to move us forward with faith and confidence in the public square to proclaim this truth?
“The ultimate solution for restoring and promoting justice at all levels
lies in the heart of each man.”
-Fr. Francis Fernandez
It is in the heart that injustice comes into existence. Examine your own heart in this regard. Seek the sacrament of penance and resolve to practice justice in the areas in which you have been remiss.
“Blessed are those that hunger and thirst for justice,
for they shall have their fill.”
We must do more than agree with Church teaching on issues. We must form our conscience according to them, and we must let Church teaching move us forward with faith and confidence into the public square to proclaim the truth at every opportunity. How do your actions indicate your beliefs about the sanctity of life? How can you bring greater justice into the contemporary culture?
“Sin makes men accomplices of one another and causes concupiscence, violence, and injustice to reign among them.”
-Catechism of the Catholic Church 1869
Each person who sins cooperates in bringing suffering to the world. To what extent do you give in to temptation and sin?
Reflection: “The birth of Christ brought a healing message of peace to the world, but to receive it, faith and humility are required: Who has time to listen to His word and to become enfolded and entranced by His love?” – Pope Benedict XVI
Challenge: Ask Our Lady to share with you her faith and humility that you might enter into the fullness of God’s peace and love as you continue your journey through the Christmas season. How can you bring this peace and love to others?
Reflection: “A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not
be consoled, since they were no more.” -1 John 2:2
Challenge: Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, a day when the blood of innocent children cries out and we remember them with reverence and love. It is also a day when that points to the obedience of St. Joseph who heeded the warning of the angel and took Mary and Jesus into Egypt to escape this massacre. Ponder these mysteries.
As we draw closer to the New Year, how is God asking you to be more obedient to His will? Where is He calling you to change? What one resolution will make the greatest impact in your relationship with Him?