January 1st 2012 Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God
This is the time of year for resolutions – yet again, many of which we will fail to keep by month’s end, because we are creatures of habit. All self-help books promise a winning formula – a plan, a programme that is fool-proof (except for me that is!), offer tangible results, short term and long term goals, strategies against back-sliding, reviews, exercises, and accountability to and the support of others.
The top ten resolutions of course include more exercise, getting fit, losing the flab, acquiring a new hobby, getting organised, more time with family and friends, quitting smoking, helping others and so on.
One thing is true however – apparently it takes three weeks for the body to attune to a new habit it has not adapted to before – before it becomes automatic.
All of these are quite praiseworthy, but have I thought about my relationship with God?
The passing of another year means that I am a year closer to meeting Him. How do I feel about that? The only good news is that if you have a frame of mind like mine you know now that 2011 won’t be on your headstone. Now that another 365 days have passed, how many more lie ahead?
‘The key to a better you’ is a physical fitness plan a friend of mine has undertaken recently and he lost 2 stone in 2 months – a bit dramatic, and involving strenuous exercise and a massive change in diet – 70% of any weight loss plan involves change in diet by the way.
But what is the key to a better ‘spiritual you’?
Is there a winning formula in my relationship with God? Yes I believe there is, and who better to look to than the woman we celebrate today – someone who we may have overlooked in recent years.
The letters of Mary’s name correspond to a daily spiritual programme to draw us ever closer to God.
M is for Mass – if possible, daily. While there are many reasons to participate at Mass regularly, here are just two:
In a particular way, the prayer ‘give us this day our daily bread’ corresponds to the strength and healing that Christ alone can give us to carry on. Just as we are weakened by lack of proper nourishment, without Christ we are weak indeed.
Secondly, it is good to go to Mass with an intention in mind, and easier to focus with that intention – for ourselves or someone else – and to pray for that intention at the elevation of the Host and the Chalice at consecration.
A is for Angelus – a prayer that can be said at 6 am, 12 noon, and at 6 pm. It is a reminder of God’s love for us in sending us His Son as well as Mary’s response in faith to her unique calling. To what is God calling me, and how can I be more faithful and attentive as Mary was, are questions that we can ponder during the recitation of the Angelus
R is for Rosary – the prayer that Mary asks us to pray daily in order to obtain peace for the world and for ourselves.
Y is for You – the unique gift that only you can give to God is the ongoing daily surrender of your very self – thought words, actions, intentions and sacrifices, in the spirit of Mary, and through her intercession.
For 2012 and beyond, this is the key to a better ‘spiritual you’.
Happy New Year