For me 2013 was a big year! I finished seminary, was ordained a priest and started this blog. What was the past year like for you? Did you have any new experiences or reach significant milestones? What was the best part and what was the worst? How are you different from a year ago?
All of us know we change with the seasons, that is, we are not left unaffected by winter’s cold or summer’s heat; by the cool fall days or by the new life that comes each spring. Seasons change us! Now, the Church has seasons too. Advent and Christmastime, Lent and Easter, Ordinary time, each of these seasons, each of these mysteries, is meant to change us. The starkness of winter’s Lent helps us to be grateful for the new life that Easter’s springtime brings; the anticipation of Advent, a longing for Emmanuel with us; the humdrum of Ordinary time, a reminder of our Lord’s hidden and humble life. My point is this: you and I have to learn how to change, how grow with the seasons of the Church!
When we intentionally live the Church’s sacramental seasons and cultivate virtue in our lives, our holiness grows from year-to-year. If you have followed Jesus in his mysteries, it should be clear that you are holier now than before. This does not mean that you won’t sin again or have the occasional fall. But when you do you are quicker to get back up!
Friends are a big help in getting back up. In the Church we have friends in our parish and Heaven—the Communion of Saints. Without friendship none of us can be holy. Our most important friendship is with Our Lord and Our Lady, but we should not overlook friendship with the angels, saints, and those around us.
In 2014, I ask you to resolve to take a particular saint as a friend: study their life, read what they wrote and what was written about them, ask for their intercession and talk to them in prayer. In a word, get to know and love this saint better. My saintly friend for 2014 will be St. John of Avila. St. John lived in 16th century Spain and was a diocesan priest. Perhaps you might consider Theresa of Calcutta, Titus Brandsma, Pier Giorgio Frassati, Elizabeth Ann Seton, Louis de Montfort, Maria Goretti or any other saint or blessed?
May you end 2014 with a new friend!
With prayers for a blessed 2014,
Father Gerald Souza
A version of this was first published in the parish bulletins of Saints Mary, Andrew and Theresa of Lisieux, Billerica, Massachusetts