December 3, 2015
By the time you receive this issue of our diocesan newspaper, the end of our current year of grace and favor from the Lord will be upon us as we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ, the King. This final Sunday and week of our Church year is an annual reminder that, like this year, our lives proceed from conception and birth to an end which we do know will come to each of us.
During this final week of our Church year, it would be a good practice for us to take a look back over the year itself, but also, take a look at the progress of our lives from as far back as we can remember. Why would this be a good thing to do? A real and honest examination of life and conscience is very healthy for us to do, in many ways and, especially, for us spiritually and morally. If you are like me, I do not really like to do this too often, but every time I make an examination of life and conscience, I am surprised by two things.
First, I am always surprised by the fact that I am not quite as bad as I think I am. That, in itself, is an actual grace of the moment for which I am grateful. Second, and just as important, I am not surprised to realize that in so many ways I can certainly be and do much better than I have been doing. This, too, is an actual grace of the moment. However, making this examination of life and conscience will not do me or you much good if we do not make a real and firm decision to use the great gifts of the sacraments, the treasury of prayers and the merits of all of the saints who have gone before us, to increase our own holiness of life and to make us better and more honest imitators of Jesus in our daily lives.
As I said, this is a good thing to do during the last week of our Church year. It will certainly prepare us to celebrate a new year of grace and favor from the Lord with the First Sunday of Advent and the entire Advent Season. This is the time when we can appreciate better just what the Lord God has done and continues to do for us. We can ask ourselves what life, our lives, would be like if He had not come to us as an innocent and helpless child for no other reason than that He loves us and wanted to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. This is Christmas. This is why Christmas follows so effortlessly from Advent. Both of these seasons are all about Jesus; and only secondarily about us as loved and saved by Him.
May all of you have a wonderful final week of our Church year, a fruitful Advent and a joyous and peace-filled Christmas. Let us be resolved to pray for each other and for all who may not know Jesus or have tried to forget Him. If we commit to this, then we will be celebrating the great Jubilee Year of Mercy as Pope Francis has asked to do.