Happy 2019! I’m more than sure that you’ve already been greeted with at least one, “Wow, I haven’t seen you since last year!” joke, so I’ll spare you. I think most will agree with me in saying that 2018 was too quick a year and its events way too unexpected. But I would say it’s a good thing when the events of the year don’t turn out as we planned because, the truth of the matter is, what we want isn’t always what God wants. And if we all had our way, then the world would be in even more chaos than it already is! So we can at least begin 2019 knowing one thing, to expect the unexpected.
Having said that, you might ask yourself, “What’s the best way to greet the New Year?” I don’t know about you, but as great as the whole feeling of “starting over” is, it’s also easy for me to feel intimidated by it. It’s kind of like when you go to confession and experience healing and renewal, but also a sense of fear for messing up again. So how does one find the courage to face the New Year without being overwhelmed by fear of messing up? Thankfully, the Church in her wisdom is always a good source of guidance. She shows us that the best way for one to greet the New Year is by greeting Mary.
As we know, every year on January 1st, we celebrate the solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God. I think the Church has this be the first celebration of the Year for a very good reason, that is, so that we can recognize Mary as the Mother of God, and in doings so, recognize her as our Mother as well. She is the perfect advocate and guide for beginning the year, because of the intimate relationship she has with Our Lord. We ask her to intercede for us so that she can take us by the hand and help us to always tread on God’s path. In doing so, we won’t have reason to fear, because if we fall and mess up (which we probably will), Mary our Mother will be there to pick us right back up. And when we encounter the unexpected, we know to trust, as Mary did, that it is part of God’s mysterious plan.
It’s important to keep Mary’s fiat in mind when making resolutions for the New Year. As we read the story of the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary, it might seem as if Mary’s “yes” to the Angel’s proposal was easy and simple. All she had to do was say that she accepted the terms and conditions. However, as we read the Gospels we recognize one of Mary’s best attributes, namely, her fidelity to God. Mary had to remain faithful to that response that she gave to the Angel as soon as she uttered it, and we see that Mary was always consistent and steadfast in keeping her word. This, as we know, is why we call Mary the “New Eve”, because while Eve failed to keep God’s will, Mary remained faithful.
In this same way, we have to work to keep the resolutions that we make for ourselves this New Year. We have to make concrete resolutions, not vague ones that will be easy to dismiss. Lord knows that every year we say things like, “I’m going to workout more!” or “I’m going to pray more!” but we don’t follow through! Instead we should say, “I’m going to run for 20 minutes every morning,” or, “I’m going to pray a decade of the rosary every night before bed.” These concrete resolutions will help to keep ourselves in check and measure just how faithful we’re being to them. When we make vague resolutions, we’re just making it easier for ourselves to not go through with them. But if we choose to exercise our constancy, we’ll become more faithful in the little things and in the great things after the example of Mary the New Eve and Mother of God.
David Martinez is a seminarian studying for the Diocese of Gary, Indiana and is a member of the Class of 2020.