Dear friends in Christ:
What are your New Year’s resolutions? Most folks generally list things like shed 10 lbs., save more money, start exercising or read more books. In addition to whatever your resolutions are, I would like to propose that you consider making some resolutions inspired by Holy Scripture. In The Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke describes the early Christians in this manner:
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ instruction and the communal life, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42).
Notice that they just didn’t do a couple of these things or attempt them for a time. They devoted themselves. Imagine what your life will be like if you did the same as the early Christians. Imagine how different your relationship with God will be if you devote yourself in the coming year to the four practices of studying the teaching of the apostles, participating more in community life, living with greater devotion to the Eucharist and growing in prayer. Think how devotion to these four practices could change our personal relationships as well as our outlook on the world. Think of how different our marriages and our families can be. Of course, there is no one way to go about this. Each one of us can see what works best for us in our own circumstances. The only way we can fail is not to try. Here are a few suggestions.
Apostolic Instruction. Read a little bit of the Catechism of the Catholic Church every week. Make a plan to go through the four sections (The Creed, The Commandments, The Sacraments and Prayer) throughout the year. Maybe take a section for each season of the year. Of course, if you don’t own a Catechism, buying one would be a huge first step. But if you don’t wish to buy one (though it really is a good idea) you can look it up online at any of a number of websites including the Vatican webpage or the bishops’ website. Another good way to devote oneself to the teaching of the apostles is to read something by the Pope. His daily homilies are very good and easily found on the internet. Again the Vatican website is very helpful.
Communal Living. Make a commitment to do at least one thing with the Church each month in addition to Sunday Mass and whatever else you may already be involved in. Volunteer for a liturgical ministry, attend an Adult Ed Class, go drink a cup of coffee at Coffee and Donuts, come to a parish dinner. Whatever you do, break out of your shell and get connected in 2017. Treat yourself to the possibility of making new friends, having a good time and making a difference for someone else.
The Breaking of Bread. Of course “The Breaking of Bread” is the Holy Eucharist. The earliest Christians devoted themselves to what Jesus commanded them to do at the Last Supper. But devotion is more than simply repeating from time to time. Devotion is more than merely showing up when it is convenient. Practically speaking that means, Mass every Sunday and Holy Day. It also means that when we can, we attend a weekday Mass. It means that we work to receive the gift of Holy Communion worthily by going to confession regularly. Devotion to the Eucharist is lived when we make it habit or a custom to visit and pray before the Eucharist in Adoration. Devotion is more than just showing up to fulfill an obligation. It is being so in love with Jesus that we desire to pray the Mass with the greatest reverence we can give and that we share our love with others through prayer and invitation.
Prayer. Prayer is the lifeblood to our relationship with the Lord. If our communication with God in prayer is solid, then things will be in order. When our prayer life is weak or shoddy, we are more prone to give into temptations. Notice how often that when we find ourselves in a bad situation, our prayer is not what it should be. Prayer is the oxygen that keeps us going in the right direction. This year we can strive to devote ourselves to praying, not just more but better.
In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately