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A New Year… A New You?

by Rev. John Grant

By now many of us have already given up on the resolutions that we’ve made to be better this year at: being good stewards of our bodies through healthy eating and exercise, giving up that annoying habit that we seem to always run back to when we’re stressed, or organizing our room, home, or office. But the resolution I hope that all of us have made and never give up on is the commitment to become a better Christian this year. Especially since this is the Year of Faith!

This past week was Vocations Awareness Week, and 5th Graders from all across the diocese met last Friday or Sunday to learn about what a vocation is and why its important. Did you know that we all have vocations? And as the 5th graders might be able to tell you, a vocation is a calling from God that each person receives at their baptism: a calling that has been given to each of us to do some definite thing for God that He has not called anyone else to do. Our Christian vocation is either to married life, to priestly life, to religious life, or to consecrated lay single life. But each of these vocations which God calls us to is just the path that God has given us to accomplish the universal vocation that we all share, and that vocation is holiness! We have all been created by God so that we may know, love, and serve Him in this life, so that we may live with Him forever in the life to come. We were created to become saints: heavenly citizens!

Therefore, we must not take for granted our responsibility to fulfill our Christian duties to grow in our faith and evangelize others. If we neglect our bodies, let us never neglect our souls. If we struggle with vice, let us never abandon the source of grace and virtue. If we keep a messy space, let us never tolerate keeping a sullied heart. “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:1-2)

And to accomplish this, the Church give us precepts which she, in her wisdom, considers bare minimums so as not to loose the possibility of eternal life:
1. You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.
2. You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
3. You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
4. You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.
5. You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.
6. To obey the laws of the Church concerning Matrimony.
7. To participate in the Church’s mission of Evangelization of Souls.

It is to this last precept that I most wish to highlight. St. Thomas Aquinas said, “To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of… each believer.” (ST, III, 71, 4 ad 3.) We all have the ability to preach the Gospel everyday by our words and actions, but do we? At the dismissal of every Mass, having been strengthened by the gift of the Eucharist, we are sent to continue our Mission to make disciples of all nations. (See Mt. 28:19-20) It is though the fulfillment of our vocation and our Christian duties that we become holy. We actually grow in our faith by sharing it with others. Its one of the only things we’ve been given that increases by giving it away, the other is love and they are eternally intertwined.

So if we feel like we are not adept or ill-prepared to share our faith, it behooves us to learn more about it. Everyone has received the Year of Faith Bucket List which has numerous suggestions about how one could take advantage of this graced year to grow our own faith and share it with others. Another opportunity began this week with start of the Catholicism Adult Study Program on Tuesday Night. These are tools to help us achieve the resolution that we have every year, every week, every day to become better Christians. Because how can we take our part in the New Evangelization unless we have first been evangelized? St. Paul asks the same thing: “But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent? So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.” (Rom. 10:14-15, 17)

As we begin the two thousand and thirteenth year of our Lord, we have the opportunity to once again hear the good news that, God so loved us that He sent His only begotten Son to save us from our sins, and then He gave us Himself to fulfill His promise to remain with us always. If we need reminding, then let us be reminded. If we have heard, then let us proclaim, let us be witnesses, and let us evangelize!

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