Bring faith into the new year

Published 7:00 am Saturday, January 2, 2016

If you have been around more than a decade or so, the end of the year and beginning of the new becomes habitually bittersweet. Initially, we breathe a sigh of relief as the Christmas holidays are behind us. Often gone is the pressure of baking, cooking, cleaning shopping and putting up with some of the relatives. Seemingly gone, also, is the wonderment of it all, as we face the upcoming bills and tax season.

After Jan. 1, there is almost a melancholy mood extant. It’s a bit like sobering up after Mardi Gras. The days feel unbearably longer, the sky is far more gray, and the rising damp has a stronger chill. We face, seemingly, exceedingly long days of uninterrupted toil, and fewer days of rest. It’s a real grind. If only there could be a return to those few days of the past weeks. If only we could!

Returning to the “days of yore” is a more frequent pastime for some than others. Of course, we are not talking about someone who reenacts a Civil War battle, or whose hobby is family ancestry. No, we are referring about those who believe that yesterday was, somehow, always better than it is at the present or, without real effort, miraculously may be so in the future.

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Surely, each of us has fond times of the personal history of our lives. A romance, a journey, an encounter, an experience, often bring us to wax poetically upon the positive nature of our time in that place, or situation. Often, we will play the “tapes” in our minds, as we recount the moments, with a smile.

One of the generous gifts given to us by God, and so rarely spoken about, is the gift of the selective memory.

Quite naturally, we edit our own histories, leaving out many of the unpleasant things of the past. As Martha Stewart said, “This is a good thing.” Imagine how awful life would be if we had to dwell on all of the unpleasant things which have happened to us.

In this post-Christmas season, we should fondly embrace our histories, gratefully remembering those persons and places that had such a positive impact upon us and us, on them, guided by the hand of God. At the same time, we should be eagerly looking forward to the new, yet unknown experiences, which shall surely form great memories in our futures. Yet, do we look to the future with the same fondness we remember the past? For some, it may be quite difficult to have a true vision for their spiritual future, for they have yet to fully understand their relationship with our Creator, His promise to the Faithful, and their part in all of this.

Indeed, God looks to us, each of us, to begin every new day in praise of Him and in thanksgiving for the gifts which have been received, both collectively and individually. Knowing the future is bright, only in Him alone, we eagerly anticipate the challenges of this world and the gift of Godly grace in our coming days and years.

Giving up ourselves to God requires faith beyond ourselves. It requires a resolution and continual regeneration.

For, in and of itself, faith does give us fond memories, which we carry with us each day. Going forward, we are warmed with the knowledge our Heavenly Father is with us. What could be a better memory, or a better future?

May you have a blessed and Happy New Year.

By Fr. Jonathan J. Filkins.