New Year, Fresh Start
I know that not all of you are still in school—I haven’t been an officially enrolled student since 2012!—but being in an order so closely related to so many educational institutions, my experience of Holy Cross has been that in some ways the whole Province, maybe the whole community, runs on the academic calendar.
It’s the beginning of a new school year, a new term, a new course schedule, a new teaching schedule, or a new Mass schedule. In these days it is so easy for your most consulted reference to become your calendar (whether paper or electronic), much more so than your Bible or Breviary. For a short time that is probably OK, but fairly quickly it would be much better to settle into a routine; it might be a new routine, but it is still what will keep you on track for the rest of this year, or at least until Christmas.
As you are putting all of your appointments and events into your calendar, don’t forget to make time for all the things that keep you healthy: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. If it’s important it deserves a space on the calendar. What will be your regular Sunday (or Saturday evening) Mass? What will be your regular daily prayer time? Will your old prayer time still work with your new schedule? Is it, honestly, high time to turn it up a notch, or to find or reconnect with a spiritual director? This part of the year is privileged because the concrete is still wet, as it were, in your routine. Get the important things in there before the stress of the year hardens you into the patterns you are setting—both the good and the bad.
If you feel like you have been on a plateau in your prayer life for a while now, it may also be a good time to think about changing things up. Get a new book for your spiritual reading, consider what kind of penance you will do on Fridays (will I abstain from meat, or substitute a different penance on Fridays?), when was the last time I cracked open my Bible or dusted off my Rosary? Have I ever learned the Divine Mercy Chaplet of St. Faustina (the Year of Mercy will soon be upon us!) or the precious Jesus Prayer of our Eastern brethren?
Nothing which is too rigid or unchanging is able to truly grow. Think of the supple tips of tree branches in the spring versus the dry, brittle snap of a dead twig. This new year will be full of challenges and opportunities; a tiny bit of planning and discipline in these early days of the semester can set you up for the kind of habits and prayer time you will have had when you look back at it come Christmas time.
A Prayer to Our Lady of Sorrows
Most Holy Virgin and Mother,
your soul was pierced by a sword
in the Passion of your Divine Son,
and by His glorious Resurrection
He filled you with never-ending joy.
Pray for us, so that as now we experience
the adversities of the Christian life,
we may one day rejoice with the whole Church
and with you in His Presence.
Adapted from a prayer from the 1947 Holy Cross Directory
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