Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year!

In a famous New Year’s Day sermon, fittingly titled “How to Be Happy,” the founder of the Paulist Fathers, Isaac Hecker, said: It is the common custom in meeting of friends at this season, to greet each other with a Happy New Year! This is a praiseworthy and pleasant custom, and in accordance with it, I greet you all, my dear brethren, with a Happy New Year! Happy New Year to all our friends and the inhabitants of this city, and to all our countrymen, whether dwelling north or south, east or west, in this our native land. Happy New Year to all men of whatever race or clime; for God is our common Creator, and in Christ we are all sons of God, and therefore brethren.

In the unhappy year that has just ended, the pandemic overshadowed everything. The pandemic upended all formerly taken-for-granted normal social interaction, both ordinary and extraordinary. An "ordinary" example, the last time I ate in a restaurant was March 7, 2020! When, if ever, will I have the pleasure of eating in one again? Much more importantly, an "extraordinary" (if this year all too common) occurrence, the pandemic prevented a proper funeral for my mother. When, one wonders, will her interment take place, and who will be there to remember and mourn? 

Meanwhile, as the new year begins, my life is in almost complete disorder, as I and my confreres are all in quarantine, my move to NY on hold until probably mid-January. So far, I hsve tested negative. If I stay this way, it will, I hope, just be a matter of waiting this out until I am able to move. If nothing else this is a useful lesson in detachment!

As the new year begins, the country is not quite in such chaos, of course; but it certainly seems to be, as the Republican party seems poised for one more assault against constitutionalism and democracy when the electoral votes are counted next Wednesday, having displayed (Scrooge-like, over Christmas) its indifference to the desperate need of so many American citizens for substantive material relief.

But there are at least some signs of hope - notably the possibility of widespread vaccination in this new year and the certainty of a new president in just 20 more days. And, God willing, I will make it safe and sound to New York and somehow begin this next phase of my life.

On this feast of the Motherhood of Mary, we are reminded of the implications of the incarnation. In Jesus, God has become one of us and entered into our world of chaotic human experience. And so in Christ we are all sons of God, and therefore brethren.

Happy New Year! May this new year be a happier, healthier, and safer year for all!

O God, who are without beginning or end, the source of all creation, grant us so to live this new year, whose beginning we dedicate to you, that we may abound in good things and be resplendent with works of holiness. (Roman Missal)

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