The New Year, as a celebration, is a strange thing, nice, but strange. The tenderness, peace, and quiet lived during Christmas, just a few days ago, suddenly gives way to culinary and ethylic creativity, accompanied with gladness and parties that go well into the night, radically changing everything we just lived. Literally, the party goes on from one year to the other.
It’s nice and good to celebrate (certainly Jesus would do it) since we all want to remember our successes, forget the bad times, and embrace the hope of starting all over again. But something strange happens: people do strange things. The media bombards us with all types of advice, not on how to cook a delicious dinner, but about superstitions to start well the New Year. And things get more complicated when in our own home we see our family members eating lentils, running around the block with a suitcase, wearing underwear in all sorts of colors, drinking champagne with a ring in the glass, etc. And so continues the creative (and absurd) list of superstitious rituals that seek to bring us a new year full of successes and prosperity. It is difficult to stand before one’s family members and tell them that all those rituals are wrong, that they are “taking the wrong path” (even if their intentions are good).
We are not trying to criticize others, but let’s go to the point: Christians do not believe in superstitions, rituals, amulets, etc. We are in the “business” of Good News, the Gospel is about denouncing but, above everything, it is about announcing; thus, instead of criticizing and judging, we want to share with you 7 New Year’s customs that a Catholic should have.
1. Give thanks
Before family dinner (preferably a few days before) make a list of the people to whom you are grateful. Either because they helped you in your work or school, because they were kind to you during a difficult situation, or because they accompanied you in times of suffering and sickness. In short, there is always people around us that have done some good to us. Let that night be a night of gratitude. Thank your family and remind them of all the good they have done to you. Let your text messages be full of gratitude, and take the time to text those who least expect it, and thank all their gestures of love.
2. Set your resolutions for the new year
Don’t only establish goals such as finishing your graduate degree, paying your debts, going on a vacation to the Caribbean, or finally going to the gym. Instead, set life resolutions, big things you can start this new year. God invites us to nourish our hope with our faith. Christians are hopeful people that believe that the best is still to come. Making a list and leaving it in a visible place during the rest of the year surely will help.
3. Evaluate the year that ends
Don’t confuse “evaluating” with “rescuing what went wrong.” To evaluate is to give value to something; thus, review the most significant events you lived, the most important decisions you made, your most transcendental projects, and give them a value. But careful, life is not black and white, in fact, it is mostly gray. Things are not always good or bad. For this reason, I invite you to see your life as Jesus would see it, with love, mercy, hope, and thus, evaluate what you have done. Otherwise, evaluating the year that just concluded will be a torture that will make you reproach yourself for the bad things you’ve done, and will make you think about how much you long for the new year to start.
4. Dedicate a minute to think about those who passed away
The year 2016 has been very moving due to the many painful deaths we have seen in the media. War, hunger, and injustice have scrunched up our hearts and made us grit our teeth more than once during this year. Possibly, more than one of you lost a family member or a close friend, too. Let us dedicate a few minutes to honor their memories and make a toast to their lives, and offer ours for the suffering of their families. Let their memories be more than a nostalgic and melancholic thought, but a motivation to live our lives with love and enthusiasm.
5. Greet and celebrate our Mother
Staying up late the night before may make us forget that on January 1 we celebrate something very important to our faith: the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. We are used to this name the Church gives to the Holy Virgin Mary, but the fact that a fragile and perishable human creature is the mother of God Himself, is something sublime and we celebrate it on this date. Let’s then begin the new year greeting her, dedicating a few minutes of prayer to her, and attending Mass in her memory. Don’t let the amount of the food leftover from the previous night stop us from giving a New Year hug to the person that gave us our Savior: Mary, our Mother.
6. Resolve to get involved in a new ministry
It isn’t necessary to go to Africa to convert cannibals into vegetarians. Probably, you already participate in a ministry or movement in your parish, but reflect on it, don’t just think about the activities and events marked in your planner for the new year. Think about how the Lord could transform what you already do, how things could go to the next level, or what else you could do that you haven’t tried yet. Don’t just plan the new year in terms of family, work, and finances, but also consider your faith, especially your ministry, wishing to do more, touching more hearts, announcing the Good News that have changed our lives.
7. Keep on living the liturgical year
For many, Christmas doesn’t even last until December 25th, but only takes place on the 24th, and ends when there is no more food on the table and the last gift is opened. For us, Catholics, Christmas it not only a holiday but a liturgic time that ends on January 9 with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord. On these days many things happen (Catholically speaking), like the Feast of the Holy Innocents (December 28), the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God (January 1), the Epiphany of the Lord (January 6), all of them important celebrations for our spiritual life. Christmas is beautiful, but don’t reduce it to a family gathering where food and gifts are the main highlights.
Translated by Lorena Tabares. You may find the original post here.