Greetings in the Lord in this new year of 2016. My title this week is an extract from the old Act of Contrition where the penitent promises ‘never to offend Thee again and firmly resolve to avoid the occasions of sin.’ New Year resolutions are customary at this time of year and in a sense of fresh starts, new beginnings and grace-filled jubilee, they are good to make because we are meant to continually grow (not in the waistline – ideally – but interiorly in our soul!) Don’t imagine it’s too late to make them either if it wasn’t the 1st January when you decided what to do, for we stand on the threshold of this year in the wake of the Epiphany – The ‘Little Christmas’.
Like the Magi kneeling before the Christ child with their gifts, we too have to bow and bend low (I’ve often thought how those who came to adore Him in Bethlehem could not have physically drawn close inside that cave unless they stooped perhaps to avoid banging their heads!) and offer Him something like gold, frankincense and myrrh. So I got to thinking the other day how amidst the chaotic pace of life, saturated with instant communications, just how much the voice of God can be drowned out without two key things: silence and prayer. On silence the Venerable Fulton Sheen eloquently states:
“Those who would become wise must become silent. A mirror is silent, yet it reflects forests, sunsets, flowers and faces. Great ascetic souls, given to years of meditation, have taken on a radiance and a beauty which are beyond the outlines of a face. They seem to reflect, like the mirror on the outside, the Christ they bear within. Silence alone gives them inner sanctuary in which true solitude is born. A place where the soul stands naked before God.”
Now of course finding silence and contemplation in the everyday ‘busyness’ of life, turmoil, demands, schedules and deadlines is easier said than done I know, which is why we must come back again to the importance of the Holy Rosary. I appreciate that as a form of prayer it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but apart from striving to achieve attending Holy Mass every day (a highly commendable thing wherever and whenever possible) and/or reading a passage of the Gospel or Sacred Scripture every day , I believe the Rosary is a sure fire way to carve out at least 15 minutes (or a bit more if we take our time over it) of silent contemplation, be it on a train, in the car to and from work, or shopping, etc, which like the gifts of the Magi is precious to the Lord like gold, is worshipful like frankincense, and entails a bit of sacrifice on our part to make it happen and so is mingled with the myrrh of pushing ourselves through that daily ‘pain barrier’ to make it happen. Fr Raymond Lawrence, author of the Rosary Novenas to Our Lady in the mid 1920s put it beautifully:
“Those who have profited most from the rosary are the ones who have understood it. With hearts full of love they have rested their heads on the bosom of their heavenly mother and, whispering words of endearment to her, they have gazed the while at those wonderful pictures which the changing mysteries recall, seeing always something new and beautiful. And when they have come to the end of the picture book, with the insatiable interest of a child, they have gone back to the beginning and turned every page over again.”
A blessed, healthy and holy 2016 and HERE are some prayer ideas!