A year is dead, a year is born:
Thus time flies by on silent wing:
Thou, Lord, alone canst guide our course
And safe to heaven Thy people bring. (Lapsus est Annus)
Long ago, our ancestors greatly feared the passage of time. We experienced a bit of that years ago when we turned the page on the year 2000. Certainly, our fear was more sophisticated than that of our ancestors, largely due to our advanced technological wisdom. I don’t think it was, however, solely a fear of universal computer crashes that sent our heads reeling into a “what would happen if …” syndrome. I believe we remain concerned about our inability to control time—basically to control our destinies—to set our own futures and control our own lives. While there is nothing inherently wrong with those kinds of thoughts, without anchors of faith, hope, and the awareness of the reality of God in one’s life they become strange specters of emptiness and fear.
For people of faith, the arrival of the New Year musters a sense of confidence and vision for a future that one is reasonably capable of attaining—with personal diligence and God’s help. The absence of faith, so prevalent in our society today, creates a vacuum of hopelessness that is being filled with worldly aspirations that consistently fail to satisfy or endure. Hence, New Year resolutions made without God’s blessings tend to fail almost as quickly as they are dreamed up.
We have an opportunity, as 2018 comes into existence, to experience something unique. For us, in the Diocese of La Crosse, 2018 is an anniversary year—our Sesquicentennial Year. For one hundred and fifty years, people living in western and north central Wisconsin have worked hard to develop a sense of the Catholic faith. Their diligence allows each one of us to possess a sense of integrity and centeredness that opens us to a useable future filled with purpose and hope.
Our ancestors struggled with lives of drudgery and hard work, but they achieved success through an understanding that their work was not in vain. They were building the future for themselves and, well, for us too. Their integrity and personal awareness helped build confidence that they were passing on a society filled with values and accomplishments. Their true sense of ethics and altruism paved the way for future generations who, with faith and confidence in the power of God, would build upon the foundations they laid. They planned a future with a clear vision of the Kingdom of God on earth and in heaven as they were promised by God Himself.
As we embark on 2018, let us gather the good from our past and, with God’s providence, confidently move forward. May you have a happy and hope-filled New Year!
O Lord, our daily wants supply;
Protect from sickness and disease;
And deign to give, O God of love
The blessings of unbroken peace. (Lapsus est Annus)