January 11, 2013

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Living and enriching our faith during the ‘Catholic New Year’

Patti LambEach year, my husband measures our children on their birthdays and marks their new heights on the laundry room wall. Then they step back, and we all marvel at how much they’ve grown right before our eyes. They whirl around like little tops, excited at their progress.

One night last week, I was folding clothes in the laundry room when our 5-year-old daughter, Margaret, suddenly darted in. She immediately took her place against the wall near the “Margaret: 5 Years” line to see if she had grown.

Startled, I questioned her mad dash. It turns out that she had finally finished the serving of green beans she was given earlier that evening at dinner. In my quest to get Margaret to eat her vegetables despite her distaste for them, I might have stretched the truth a bit regarding their magical powers to help her grow instantaneously.

Now she makes regular trips to the laundry room to see if her vegetables are working their magic. Unfortunately, she hasn’t once remembered to bring her dirty clothes with her. While she doesn’t need to check back nearly so often, at least she has the right idea about making sure that she’s on track to achieving her goal.

It occurred to me that every New Year provides a similar opportunity for adults to measure their progress, so to speak.

The first of January invites us to look back at where we’ve been—and gauge where we are—on this journey. And most importantly, it’s an opportunity to make sure we’re headed in the right direction.

To this end, we make New Year’s resolutions, many of which involve losing weight or bad habits.

Early January also reminds us that tax season is just around the corner so most of us make a concerted effort to assess our finances and review our retirement portfolios.

Every New Year pressures us to examine our finances and our waist lines, but rarely does it call us to conduct a rigorous review of our own souls.

In his apostolic letter “Porta Fidei” (“Door of Faith”), Pope Benedict XVI declared a “Year of Faith” from Oct. 11, 2012, through Nov. 24, 2013. The pope issued this in part because we have a faith crisis on our hands. And given the state of our world today, we need to work to increase and spread the faith. The pope is asking us to be ambassadors for Christ and live so that our examples make others better understand the love of God and want to know more about him.

We are asked to be witnesses for Christ—personally and collectively.

I suppose we could view this Year of Faith like a “Catholic New Year”—a time to reflect on whether we’re living our faith, and a chance to discover new ways to enrich it.

In essence, it’s like the leader of our Church is asking us to get back to the basics and step back against the laundry room wall to make sure we’re growing in the right direction, which is toward God.

He is reminding us that the simplest acts of kindness and love are the building blocks to restore Christ’s light in our world. If we often find ourselves complaining about the state of affairs in today’s world, Pope Benedict reminds us that simply embracing—and thoughtfully living out—the faith with which we were baptized is the best way to respond.

The healing ointment for this world is our faith in God and our works to put his love in action.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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