Most news media presented their “year/decade in review” stories recently. One might think the only things that happened in 2009 or the preceding years were killings, scandals, catastrophes and the rise and fall of meaningless cultural froth.
As every family knows, what did not make headlines were the most meaningful moments in life: the births of babies, the start of school, marriages and other sacraments, birthdays, sicknesses and even deaths of loved ones. Simple joys and personal tragedies don’t normally become big news.
So families begin 2010 much the way they ended 2009. They will work and study, care for family and greet friends as they always do. And many families will praise and thank God in the perfect prayer that is the Mass every Sunday. Absent will be many who call themselves Catholic, even those raised in devout Catholic homes, who will rarely step inside a Catholic church this year.
Those Catholics who do make Sunday Mass the minimum of the regular practice of their faith face the challenge of welcoming back to Church our Catholic brothers and sisters who for whatever reasons have ceased to make regular worship through the liturgy a priority in their lives.
We all need God and His spanine grace in our lives. Our fallen away friends and relatives need our good example and encouragement to help them realize this truth. Pope Benedict XVI taught this point last Sunday when he said, “every man and woman is responsible for welcoming (the kingdom of God) into his or her own life day by day. So 2010 will be better or worse to the extent that people, accepting their own responsibility, learn to collaborate with the grace of God.”
We can continue to pray in a “business as usual” fashion or cry out to God with a new vigor and seriousness of purpose. The Catholic belief that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist by the action of the Holy Spirit through the priest means we have no greater channel to seek spanine assistance for our concerns than by participating in the Mass.
The unique priestly ministry underscores the urgent responsibility for everyone to pray for vocations. Cardinal Justin Rigali will lead a holy hour of Eucharistic Adoration next Monday to kick off national vocation awareness week. His example impels the faithful to pray for an increase in vocations to priesthood and religious life.
Prayers go hand in glove with our actions. We step onto the road of a new decade with a sense of urgency to work harder for justice in protecting human life and dignity. With confident assurance we trust that Christ our Redeemer will transform the anonymous concerns of our families or newsworthy crises of our world, even if these triumphs never make a year-end highlight list.