It’s that time again: time to look back at what you have accomplished, and to look forward at your goals for the year ahead. First, allow me a few minutes for a quick summary of my adventures and lessons learned in God’s vineyard in 2011.
Writing for the Catholic press is never dull; the stories I covered this year led me closer to God though often far from the inside of a church. During my work for two central Jersey Catholic newspapers….
- I’ve spent St. Patrick’s Day with the Irish at a Gael Scoil, Columbus Day with Italian dancers from Sicily, and Pentecost with a fervent group of Charismatics;
- I’ve spoken with priests and religious, both brand-new and quite seasoned, to learn the secrets of their loving relationships with God and His people;
- I’ve walked miles on the streets of Washington D.C. with thousands eager to show their love for the pre-born, and mourned with others in cemeteries that embrace the remains of those gone to their final reward;
- I’ve learned lessons on faith from senior citizens and children, clergy and married couples, the deaf and musicians, wise professors and (God help me) puppets;
- I’ve spoken with administrators and teachers whose investment in the lives of their students will give the youth a fine foundation for their Catholic adulthood;
- I’ve covered baseball, basketball, soccer, track and cheerleading (yet a challenge to my editor for a skeeball competition remains unanswered).
In my role as cantor, I’ve sung at weddings where people have cried and at funerals where they have laughed; woven hymns and octavos into the tapestry of scripture and homilies at nearly 150 Sunday liturgies; and watched Catholicism survive the New Roman Missal mass responses. (The one drawback is that I’ve climbed far too many choir loft staircases for these complaining 51-year-old knees.)
Through all the unbalanced meals consumed at the computer while writing or behind the wheel while driving between churches, the heavenly food I have consumed has nourished me abundantly. My soul was ever filled with joy, even if my stomach was not.
I read a recent interview with the new Essex County Big Brothers CEO, Carlos Lejnieks. The never-idle dynamo is transforming that organization one volunteer at a time and enriching the lives of the needy youth of north Jersey. When queried by the reporter for the reason he worked so tirelessly at his job, Lejnieks gave a simple answer. “There are two important days in your life,” he observed. “The day you are born, and the day you know why.”
Over the course of my life, and especially this past year, I have learned my own “why”: to seek God in his many guises and share the joy I find through my singing, through my writing for the Catholic press, and even through my standing here upon this electronic soapbox (though, to be honest, most laundry soap doesn’t come in boxes anymore but instead in those giant plastic jugs with a spout, and they are too lopsided to stand upon….. but I digress.)
Using my talents to further His plan for my life gives me inner peace and irrepressible joy. My wish for you this New Year is to find that same joy in your own “why”. As one of those great new concluding rites implore “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” Thanks be to God, and onward into 2012!