When we take our prayer life seriously, our relationship with Jesus intentionally, we are growing in holiness.
As we begin a new year, it is helpful to take stock of our awareness of God’s presence and action in our life over the past year. I’ll readily admit, I’m often so consumed with meeting the demands of the present that I can tend to lose sight at times of what God is doing and how God has been answering all my prayers.
January 1 is always a holy day in the church, celebrating Mary as the Mother of God. This is a great beginning to every year, to be mindful of the birth of Jesus Christ, born not just in time through the Incarnation, but also desiring to be born into every human life. With Mary as the Mother of God and our mother, we are reminded that the primary goal of every year is to grow in relationship with Jesus Christ.
I normally do not put much energy into making New Year’s resolutions. But what I do over and over again through each year is renew my prayer life, which is all about keeping my relationship with Jesus. When we take our prayer life seriously, our relationship with Jesus intentionally, we are growing in holiness. This is God’s desire for all of us (see 1 Thessalonians 4:3).
When we are in regular conversation with Jesus through prayer and the sacramental life of the church, the Holy Spirit is always helping us understand the areas of our life that are in need of conversion. This conversion will touch every aspect of our life — spiritual, professional, physical, relational, mental, emotional.
At the end of every day, I try to make what St. Ignatius of Loyola calls an examen of consciousness — notice, not just of conscience. This is about heightening my awareness of the ways God has been active in my life that day, and how well or poorly I have responded. It is not a scrupulous exercise looking only for sinful behaviors. I let the Holy Spirit guide me through the day, giving thanks for the presence and action of God, and especially for my ability to cooperate; and I seek an honest recognition of failures and sinful actions. If I am faithful to this practice, then every day involves a certain kind of setting “resolutions” which are driven by the Holy Spirit and the providence of God.
So, if you are looking to make just one New Year’s resolution, resolve to deepen your relationship with Jesus Christ. He will lead you by his grace and your cooperation to a truly improved and meaningful life, a life of holiness and purpose according to God’s plan and God’s kingdom.
Read the Spanish version of this column.
Northwest Catholic - January/February 2020
Archbishop Paul D. Etienne was named Archbishop of Seattle on September 3, 2019 by Pope Francis. Read his blog at https://www.archbishopetienne.com/.
El Arzobispo Paul D. Etienne fue nombrado Arzobispo de Seattle el 3 de septiembre de 2019 por el Papa Francisco. Lea su blog en: https://www.archbishopetienne.com/.