December 28, 2020
Filed In: Church and Culture
The last week of the year is traditionally a pensive time for me. In an ordinary year, I would wrap up major projects, revamp my productivity systems, review my annual goals, and map out the next year. This year is different.
I must admit, I’m crashing into the new year not solely because of the events of this year, but because of my recent move. Distraction and busyness filled my life for weeks preparing for the move and finally settling in to a new home and a new routine. I’m only now getting my office unpacked and settled.
There is no dispute that 2020 cries out for a do-over. We lost so much time, so many experiences, and so many opportunities to enjoy the fruits of life. As we turn the page on our calendars and look to the new year, it’s prudent to consider how we spent our days in the context of the wider circumstances in our society.
We live in a materialist culture. Hearing that phrase recalls images of consumerism and consumption, but those are just symptoms. Materialism is a spiritual sickness. Materialism is obsessed with the physical realm, with physical objects and the body. It not only demands more stuff, it holds that the worst possible outcome for the human person is physical death. Materialism is widely embraced in our society.
As Catholics, we see the fallacy of materialism. We are physical beings, but we’re also more than that. We possess souls, which share a unique unity with the body. From this perspective, there are plenty of things worse than physical death. We lived many of them this year.
This year, we endured the tyranny of uncertainty. We lived through the misery of human separation, unable to spend quality time physically present with those that we love. Not only that, but we tasted the bitterness of spiritual isolation from our parishes and, above all else, our Eucharistic Lord.
Despite all of this, as the poet Alexander Pope once wrote, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”
2021 arrives, carrying with it the lessons learned in 2020. Fresh on our minds is the truth that life is lived in real time. Every single day is a gift, a blessing, and an opportunity. It’s a gift from a loving God, who entrusts it to us for our use and our care. How can we best spend it? It’s a blessing from a loving God who offers us a fresh chance to live according to His Law and the precepts of His love. Will we choose to live in true freedom? It’s an opportunity to share this gift and blessing with those whom we love and meet. How will we share this love?
We made mistakes in 2020, wasting our days doom-scrolling in hiding and fear. We failed to place our trust in a providential God who cares for His children no matter the circumstance. Choose to not repeat those mistakes. Life is granted to be lived, even if we’re simply spending the day at home. Choose to live every single day as the gift, blessing, and opportunity that it presents.