What’s New in this New Year?
It’s taking me a while to get used to writing 2015 on letters and checks. This makes me aware that I am a ‘creature of habit’ who sometimes acts on autopilot! However, there is also something liberating about starting a new year. For me it is the reminder as we change calendars, that we can face life anew. It’s like God giving us a whole new set of dates and times to fill in!
What’s on your calendar? If you did not take one of our parish calendars last week be sure to do so this week or next. I want to ask you to mark the dates that help us live and grow as a community of faith.
This Sunday, January 11, officially ends the Christmas season with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. I hope you stretched out your observance of Christmas. I did my best. Culturally of course Christmas begins on ‘black Friday,’ the day after Thanksgiving and ends on December 26. How unfortunate that the world doesn’t share our seasons of hope and joy, Advent and Christmas! Nor will the world pay much attention on February 18 when Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. The day before, February 17, is Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday so you will want to set aside that evening for the Mardi Gras party at Saint Thomas, always a fun event!
You must mark the following dates on your personal calendar: March 2, 3, 4 and 5. These are the dates of our Parish Mission. Father Michael Alello is returning to us from Louisiana. Ask anyone who heard Fr. Michael last year and they will tell you “Don’t miss this!” I am asking all our staff and committees not to schedule anything on those four nights, either at Saint Thomas or at St. John. The mission will be held on two evenings at Saint Thomas and two evenings at Saint John’s. Please join us at all four! What a great way to begin Lent.
During Lent, the powerful play Resurrection will come back to Saint Thomas Church on Saturday, March 21. People come from all over to witness the life and person of Jesus as seen through the eyes of Peter. The players are an amazing, talented cast of children, youth and adults from local
communities who dedicate themselves to performing at several sites.
Palm Sunday, March 29, begins Holy Week and so you will want to be sure that you enter with us into that most solemn commemoration of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, especially by participating in the Triduum, a series of three evenings that really comprise one liturgy of the passion, death and rising of Jesus. Easter Sunday, April 5 is the beginning of the longest liturgical season of the year; the fifty days of Easter, culminating with Pentecost on May 24. I can’t get over how faithful Catholics observe the forty days of Lent with fasting and sacrifices but don’t seem ready for fifty days of joyful celebration after Easter Sunday!
Do you recall the popular song “Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There is a Season)” from songwriter Pete Seeger? It became an international hit in 1965. It holds the distinction as the #1 hit song with the oldest lyrics, taken right from the Old Testament. Those words come from chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes. Take a minute as we enter this new year to read all of what the sacred author says there about time and how God holds it all in his hands. The song can make us think time just keeps repeating itself in an endless cycle. The bible reminds us that God creates our past, present and future and offers us a fresh start, a new time to turn to him.
Going back to my question: what is new in this new year, you may be tempted to say well, all these events have been celebrated before. What’s new about them? What’s new is the person you can choose to become by setting them aside to draw closer to the mysterious love of God in Jesus Christ. Today, with electronic calendars putting time literally into our pockets via smartphones, we can feel more like slaves than masters of the times and days of our life. May Jesus free us from any feeling that we are fixed into just so many days, and months and years. Jesus has entered our time to help us enter into his eternity. I pray that we renew our commitment every day to follow him into the future by following his journey through life, death and resurrection this year.
God bless! Fr. John