Many of us are very glad to see the end of 2020 and the beginning of a new year. We hope and pray that this new year will be better than the last, with the end of the coronavirus pandemic, a peaceful transition to a stable government, and a return to business, education, and worship as usual.
But maybe we should be hoping for more. Maybe “as usual” is not enough. Don’t we, every year, and in every generation, hope that things will be even better than they were in the past? It’s not just nations in the grip of sickness, injustice, or war who look forward with hope to the new year. This sentiment seems to be very human, like it’s in our shared DNA.
Or in our souls.
There is a newness that is very real, very present, very much an essential part of who we are as human beings. It comes with freewill, the ability to make decisions, to choose something different than what has been chosen previously, to take a different path, to be in a way that is different from the way of the past. When we get a new calendar of days to hang on our walls or to appear on our digital screens, we are reminded of this waiting newness. A changed calendar does not mean that everything in our lives must also change. Sometimes, the newness that we receive, the newness that we enter into, is simply — and profoundly — a new perspective, not only on what can be and should be, but also on what is.
Clarity: Know Thyself
What is good about you?
What is worth keeping in the daily living of your life?
Why are you here?
These are essential human questions, and before you try to answer them for yourself, please take a deep breath and consider the answers given, through pondering and grace, to one human being…
The good of me is my essential identity and reality. I am created by love, with love, for love, so that I may experience the blessed relationship of being loved and loving. This reality, this wordless, innate, and intimate truth that I sense in the core of my being is my essence, my reason for being as well as the focus, aim, and fruit of my living. This good is more precious than silver or gold or any worldly treasure. It is what makes me good and worthy of life, no matter the size or shape of me, no matter how futile I may be on my own or how fearful or fragile I may feel.
I am here because love desires me to be here. I exist because love desires me to receive love and to bear the fruit of love for the sake of love and for the goodness of all.
These are the answers known to the Virgin Mary about the who and why of her life. (Were you expecting someone else?) Her answer is the answer to what we may all ask ourselves at one time or another. This is what the Mother of our Lord understood through grace and pondering in her heart: she knew that she was made to serve divine love, to be fulfilled by divine love, and she was willing to do whatever divine love required her to do.
Can you say the same?
Can I? … No.
Fear not. For God says, “Behold, I make all things new.”[i]
Mercy: Fear Not
Jesus said, “Be not afraid,” more often than any other phrase recorded in the Bible because of Who He is: Divine Mercy in the flesh. Jesus’s very name means “God saves.” God saves us from the mistakes and sins of our past; God saves us from the destructiveness and cruelty of others; God saves us from our own cruelty to others and from our own self-destructiveness. How?
True newness comes only through forgiveness.Tweet
Through our faith in Jesus Christ and our desire to follow His way, we are divinely forgiven. We are divinely given newness. We receive newness of being by virtue of being baptized into the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, God in the flesh. And, by virtue of Christ’s loving, divine act of atonement, we receive newness of life every time we repent of our faults and failings and desire God’s grace to cleanse our souls and give us a new start. This is the reality of our Christian identity. This is the sublime blessing, the true and ultimate good, that we receive ever anew through Christ Jesus.
God is ever willing and desirous to forgive us. Are we willing to forgive our fellow human beings? Over and over again? Are we willing to forgive ourselves?
I know that I have made many mistakes in the last year, as I make throughout my life. I know that I am limited and weak, not only physically, but also spiritually. I know that I have willfully chosen my own self-centered concerns over the way of true love, which means that I have sinned. I also know that I am made by love, with love, for love, and that this love — who is God — will always and always forgive me when I ask, thereby giving to me newness of being and life every time that I return to love — to Him — and to loving, which is union with Him.
Purity: Made New
As a Catholic, when I celebrate the first day of a new calendar year, I also celebrate a great spiritual Feast Day: The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. It is the Virgin Mary’s purity, her purity of heart, mind, and soul, as well as body, that enabled her, on her profound day of decision, to know who she is and what the good of her is. With this true perspective, she chose wisely, rightly — she chose the fullness of being — and, through her yes to God, Divine Love was made flesh so that all things might be made new through Him.
My prayer, this new year, is that I may truly desire to safeguard the purity of my mind, body, heart, and soul through the grace of God so that I may be able to cleanly and fully receive love and give love, as is my identity and destiny. I pray that I may thus gain new perspective and make good decisions, fully entering into the goodness and newness of my life through every choice that I make. May I become who God created me to be: a beloved daughter, receiving divine love and bearing the fruit of that love to the world in all that I say and do.
I’m going to make mistakes. I’m going to fall. But I’m also going to trust in God’s mercy so that I may rise up and grow ever deeper in love, with every aspect of my life transformed and made new by divine love, as I find secure hope in the ever-newness that is faithfully given to me through Christ, my Lord.
Although I long to be free of the confines and concerns of this viral pandemic and for people to stop dying of Covid, I don’t want to return to business as usual in 2021. I want to be made new. May we all allow God to make us new creations in Christ.
Happy New Year!
© 2020 Christina Chase
[i] Revelations 21:5
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.