In one of the old prayer books of the Church, the opening meditation for New Year’s Day is: “All earthly things pass away but You, O Lord, remain the same. Everything grows old like clothing, and as old clothing you put it away. But You, Yourself, O Lord, are always the same and Your years never multiply.”

One can’t help but think of “time” on New Year’s Day. As we count the years, we think about past, happy memories of New Year’s Eves — ones we happily shared with spouses, loved ones and friends. How grateful we should be for those wonderful memories and for years past. New Year’s Day also makes us think about the “big picture” too — how fast time passes, how short life is and how quickly it goes by. We are travelers in a landscape of great mystery. St. Therese of Lisieux writes: “The world is our ship, not our port of call.”

For Christians, the next life can also come to mind as the year turns its last page.  We Christians don’t look upon time here on earth disdainfully because this part of the mystery is a precious gift from God. However, because of its brevity, we feel the challenge to use this life well. This life is a way to a goal. “Redeem your time,” advises St. Paul. So we take seriously our call to make our lives all that they can be — whatever the particulars. But how do we do this?

Christ shows us the way.

We make a firm resolution to follow the Savior and put our faith in Him. We follow the Commandments and Christ’s vision for the world. We do our appointed duties well and try to live our lives with integrity. When we fail, we repent and accept God’s mercy, never becoming discouraged at the greatness of the call to holiness. 

We reach out to the forgotten and lost. We live in an atmosphere of prayer and worship as we carry a secret joy that all is well, for we are God’s and His we’ll always be, despite the transitory world in which we live.

Some New Year’s advice: Dream less of the past and future and concentrate on the opportunities in the present. The Lord told us: “Every day has its sorrow. Don’t be solicitous for the morrow.” (See Mt. 6.34) Yesterday is past, tomorrow is uncertain, but today is entirely in our hands. We always have the choice to “seize the day” or to dreadfully endure it.

The Church calls each year a “Year of Grace” because the Divine Sun hovers over all that is to come. He sanctifies the seasons and gives life to the soul. Throughout the entire year, the Holy Church puts its arms around the flock and braids the mystery of grace into all of us. We’re never alone, we Christians.

From our Church flows a fountain of sacramental grace and support. In addition to our friends, coworkers and family members, this is the chief reason for optimism in the year ahead.

We’re accompanied by God and the Church. Both remain the same even as time passes — loving and faithful partners in all that is and is to come.
Father Thomas Morrette is pastor at St. Mary’s Church in Glens Falls.