New Years Day 1968
The new year for the vast majority of Christians begins on the first Sunday of Advent. The liturgy makes no mention of New Year's Day, and it is not concerned with the beginning of a new secular year except that the Church has made the first day of the new secular year a holy day of obligation.
With the beginning of the new year, many people do think of making New Year's resolutions. A lot of jokes have been made about making resolutions. "The road to hell," they say, "is paved with good intentions." That is not true. It is paved with intentions that were not quite good enough, intentions that never developed the muscles of resolutions. Some people think they make a resolution. They only make a wish. When they close the door against sin, it is like a swinging door that flies open at the first touch of the next temptation. Other people compromise with sin: "I'll do it just this one last time, and then no more." The door they close is a revolving door, and the first thing they know the same sin is around again. A real resolution is like the door that is slammed and bolted and barred. One thing is certain, the power and drive of the renewed and repeated resolutions will get us into heaven. And in a very literal sense God will give the quitter hell.
Our first concern is ourselves. We really do not have to worry about other people. You and I will never be their judges. God alone is the judge of each one of us.
A friend once came to St. Peter of Alcantara, bewailing the wickedness of the world. The saint replies, "The remedy is simple. You and I must first be what we ought to be, then we shall have cured what concerns ourselves. Let each one do the same, and all will be well. The trouble is that we all talk about reforming others without ever reforming ourselves."
Another thought for the New Year's Day is this: The betterment of the world consists in the betterment of individual lives. If the "world is in a mell of a hess," as they say, if you and I have done evil, by that much evil we have made our contribution towards that mess. On the other hand, when we do good, we do our little bit towards bringing down God's grace upon the stumbling world. If our lives are good, our times will be good. We - that is you and I, make our times what they are.
Let us resolve to grow in spiritual maturity during the coming year. The spirit of the Second Vatican Council is a proclamation to each one of us to act as Christian adults. The change in the law of fasting - the principle is still in effect. With regard to attendance at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, common sense dictates our course of action. Acting in a spirit of maturity we should understand that God must be worshipped in a public manner. And each time you come to Mass, you preach a powerful sermon. You always amaze me and fill me with the sense of awe by your presence. You proclaim to the whole world by your presence that you are believers: believers in God, in His Church, believers in the reality of the invisible world.
In our daily lives let us follow the simple rule of the Little Flower. She called her simple way of perfection: to do the ordinary things of each day extraordinarily well for the love of God. As a great mystic said, "God can be found among the pots and pans."
After her death, the bookmark of the great Theresa of Avila was found with this little verse, written in her own hand:
LET NOTHING TROUBLE YOU,
LET NOTHING DISTURB YOU,
All things are passing,
God never changes.
Patience gains everything,
He who has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.