Thursday, January 1, 2009

Thoughts on the New Year by Father Leo Patalinghug...

Don't miss this and many other inspiring messages from Father Leo!!!

The Bitter sweetness of a New Year
The New Year is a special time. It is often bittersweet, evidenced by the somber, yet hopeful way we sing “Auld Lang Syne.” Depending on where we are in life, New Year’s can mean many things to different people.

The wild and young at heart see December 31st as the last hurrah of the year and approach the day with revelry. Some approach it with anxiety, especially in light of the current economic instability of which the media constantly reminds us. End of the world “doom and gloomers” are strangely inspired by apocalyptic fear, while lonely people, those who recently experienced a death or break up, find their pain heightened to the point of depression or cynicism.
While December 31st is just another day of the year, it holds a unique importance. For people of faith, this day brings a sense of nostalgic and prayerful reflection of the past as well as joy and hope in the New Year to come.

As Catholics, we not only celebrate the secular understanding of the calendar year’s end, we also celebrate a solemn feast, a Holy Day of Obligation called Mary, the Mother of God. People of faith begin each year in solemn prayer with a distinctive focus. In this celebration, we recognize that Mary, the mother of God, is also our spiritual mother. We have a chance to begin a new year and a new life of grace. If we remember that Jesus (who is God) gave us Mother Mary from the cross, we can truly be born again of the same spiritual mother who gave Jesus to us that first Christmas.

For me, this New Year is extra special. One of my good priest friends, Fr. Patrick Peach, is leaving the Diocesan Priesthood in order to join the Carmel of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.

This is a bittersweet departure for his family and friends. I’ll miss Fr. Patrick Peach very much. He’s a great guy and a great priest. I knew him before he entered the seminary and I know that his new life as a semi-contemplative hermit will be powerfully enriching for the entire church. He will serve the church by dedicating his life to contemplation, prayer, and spiritual renewal. Talk about a change: from busy parish life to the business of contemplative prayer.
My young friend’s new life made me reflect on how I should approach the New Year. We have enough poor examples of how the rest of the world approaches the New Year with loud parties and binging. Fr. Peach’s decision helped me to put in perspective how silence, prayer, and deep meditation of God’s goodness is the best way to approach a new year.
Please don’t think I’m trying to put a damper on the holiday/holy day cheer. I just want to offer people an opportunity to approach this significant calendar event in a different way – with some quiet family prayer.
My family celebrates each New Year (and every holiday) with lots of singing, dancing, laughter, and food.

Amidst all the fun, we pause about 20 minutes before midnight for some quiet conversation. We pray, reading the scriptures and offering a thanksgiving prayer to God for the blessings of the past year. We encourage each other to make true resolutions, the same way we resolve to do better after each Confession (which by the way, is a great way to approach the New Year). We pray the Te Deum, a hymn of praise to God. If done with the proper disposition we receive a plenary indulgence; and we always make it to Mass for the Holy Day of Obligation.
As you can see, there is room for celebration in the midst of our prayer. Fr. Peach’s entry to the Carmel is a great reminder for us to make sure that our busy lives permit time for necessary quiet prayer that will help us get through the next year.

While his departure is sad for his family and friends, we are confident that his new life in the New Year will not only balance prayer and celebration, it will combine it perfectly into one act. Prayer will become a true celebration!

A Family Prayer for the New Year
The Te Deum is a great prayer for the entire family to say a few minutes before midnight. It contains deep theological statements about the nature of God and salvation history. It shows that God deserves all praise, for He has been faithful to us this past year. He also promises, as a spouse promises his bride, to be faithful in this life, and more importantly, in the life to come.
I pray that you and your family experience the blessings of the New Year. May our Blessed Mother’s prayers give you a sense of truly being a brother or sister of the Lord.
And by the way, if you don’t say this prayer at midnight, go ahead and pray it anytime, especially on Sundays when priests and religious women pray it as part of their promise of prayer.

Te Deum (To God)
You are God; we praise You;
You are the Lord; we acclaim You;
You are the eternal Father; All creation worships You
To You all angels, all the powers of Heaven, cheribum, and seraphim sing in endless praise; Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of Your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise You.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise You.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise You.
Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims You:
Father, of majesty unbounded; Your true and only Son, worthy of all worship; and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the King of glory, the eternal Son of the Father.
When You became man to set us free You did not spurn the Virgin’s womb.
You overcame the sting of death, and opened the kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
You are seated at God’s right hand in glory. We believe that You will come, and be our judge.
Come then, Lord, and help Your people, brought with the price of Your own blood, and bring us with Your saints to glory everlasting.
Save Your people, Lord, and bless Your inheritance. Govern and uphold them now and always.
Day by day we bless You. We praise Your name forever.
Keep us today, Lord, from all sin. Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
Lord, show us Your love and mercy; for we put our trust in You.
In You, Lord, is our hope; and we shall never hope in vain.

Thank God for priests like Father Leo Patalinghug!!!
Thy will be done!!!+JMJ+


Mary said...

Wonderful commentary to be read today. thank you!
It is a great reminder of examining our lives in light of Christ. He is the Light!
Hope you are doing well-talk soon. and Happy New Year to you and your gang-see you all soon, God willing! God bless,

Party of Eight said...

We love Fr. Leo! Happy New Year!