Happy New Year

“During this new year I resolve to begin a new life. I do not know what will happen to me during this year. But I abandon myself entirely to you, my God. And my aspirations and all my affections will be for You. I feel so weak, dear Jesus, but with Your help I hope and resolve to live a different life, that is, a life closer to You.” – St Gemma Galgani

 

2019 has arrived and with it hope for a beautiful, grace-filled new year. Today I consecrated myself to Jesus through Mary after preparing with the 33 Days to Morning Glory book.

The holidays always leave me feeling a bit lonely as regular church events and weekly groups don’t meet and friends leave town. God met my loneliness at Mass this evening. Shortly after arriving and saying my prayers a few of my friends also arrived and sat with me. It was completely unexpected as I was at a church that is in a small town outside of the city I live in and it was the 5:30 mass for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. God’s graces are abundant.

After the Mass I stayed to pray my consecration prayer. I kneeled in the pew and whispered it slowly. A coolness enveloped me and a peace arrived. My friends, noticing I had stopped to pray,  waited for me and upon hearing I had just done the consecration they congratulated me and rejoiced.

We talked a bit and caught up on holiday stories before we started to go our separate ways. Not ready to leave, I headed to the Adoration chapel and prayed a Rosary in Thanksgiving.

Yesterday, a bit of sadness lay over me, but now, I look forward to the year with hope and joy. I struggle a lot with selfishness that leads me to retreat, but I noticed that I always feel worse when I am focused on what I want. When I am service oriented, when my work is for God and others, rather than my own pleasure and goals, that is when happiness abounds. So my new year’s resolution is to set aside selfishness, to offer myself as a servant to those around me. I fear this will be difficult but I trust in God’s grace which he pours out to those who ask. And, with St. Teresa of Lisieux I proclaim “I want them all.”

Catalyst

Throughout our lives there are huge moments that, when they happen, you know your world is changed for ever. They are marked by celebrations and photos and parties. Graduations, job changes, moving cities, marriages, babies, deaths. These are the obvious life changers. But we often don’t pay attention to the small moments that set you on a course that will completely disrupt your plans. These moments do not announce themselves. You may dismiss them or ignore them completely. They may seem to affect another country or group of people, but not you. You are just a curious bystander watching a clip on the TV.

And that is where my conversion journey begins. In front of the TV on February 11, 2013.

I don’t know why this particular news story caught my eye. I wasn’t Catholic. I was raised Southern Baptist and in college I attended a Lutheran church (I always had a soft spot for formal ceremony – liturgy was particularly beautiful to me). Between the two denominations I gathered a lot of misinformation about Catholics – at worst they were pagan idol worshippers led by a anti-christ pope – at best they were misguided, but well meaning people leaning on man’s traditions and superstitions.

Either way, they weren’t really Christians.

So why did this news of a Pope’s resignation catch my Protestant eye? Why would I, someone who had agreed to Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia have my head turned by the decisions of the man who lead the Roman Church?  Looking back I believe it was the Holy Spirit stirring something within my Truth-seeking heart.

I watched the news off and on all day, absorbing headlines and hot takes on Twitter. The main stream news had theories in abundance. And I had my own (I thought I had such vast understanding of the Catholic Church and Her intricacies from my short catechesis from one Lutheran church). But the information I was finding from the major networks was not enough, and they were focusing on scandals and health scares and somehow I felt like this wasn’t the real deal.

That evening, I got into my car and stumbled across the Sirius XM Catholic Channel. The fact that I had satellite radio was a small miracle (detailed in the post “The Radio”). I listened to the commentary as often as I was in my car, which thankfully was quite a bit. I had a long commute to work and my job involved running a lot of errands.

I never did understand why the Pope removed himself from the Chair of Peter but I did find something far more important. I was a young woman who, typical of my generation, floated from church to church searching for heaven knows what, but I knew that I wasn’t searching for the Catholic Church. My spiritual journey up until that point had been somewhat anti-Catholic. I had been taught a variety of facts about the church from pastors and friends who were not Catholic. I would soon find out that these facts were not facts at all, but opinions and misunderstanding. I would find something I didn’t ever expect to find and something that would lead me on an wonderful journey to Truth and Beauty and ultimately to a deep love for my Savior.