So it’s the last day of the year, and I have to make what I suspect will be an unpopular confession: I don’t want it to leave. I want to stay and reflect a bit more on what we’ve been through and what the lessons are. While we mourn the dead and weep for the suffering, and look back on memories we may want to forget, there is something purifying about the agony of these months and if we recognize that, there may be some tremendous wisdom for going forward. Also acknowledging the grave loneliness people are experiencing, we need to figure out a way to be vessels of grace in this world, with all the people we encounter or can reach out to.
I tried to do a little of that in the Making Sense of Coronavirus series the Center for Religion, Culture, and Civil Society of National Review Institute put together. I even found myself, during the course of the last in the series, with my friend and popular author and preacher Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., making a discovery or two about some of my struggles during the year. If you can steal some time for reflection, perhaps it will help you, too.
Other videos in the series (they all run an hour) are:
with Dan Darling: Loving Our Neighbor with Our Words – even in Politics, even on Social Media
with Malka Groden and Naomi Schaefer Riley: Caring for the Orphan
and with Fr. Harrison Ayre and Michael Heinlein: God in the Crisis
But back to this last day of 2020 milestone: I fear that many people are overly invested in the transition to the new year being different – making many of the problems of this year vanish. But as another extraordinary preacher and spiritual writer Fr. Donald Haggerty put it at St. Patrick’s cathedral a week ago today: It’s not a vaccine that saves, but God. Christmas 2020 – which we are still celebrating – should be a reminder to all Christians that there is no normal. Jesus’s birth changes everything. So we should not be seeking normal or ordinary, but living more of the radical love of Christ in the midst of the mess of the world. And if we were living this way, everyone would benefit.
2021 is going to be a challenging year. And I hope one that makes people on the right and the left realize that religion has become too intertwined with politics. We are people of faith first. And that will make for better politics when we engage. There has been way too much brandishing of religion as a bludgeon. We want to be converted and convert others!
Anyway, may we do that better in the new year. During hard times, no doubt. We go forward in certainty that there is more than pandemic and crazy politics and what just popped up on the screen.
During a virtual Sheen Center for Thought and Culture event in November, I talked with Fr. Roger Landry about some of these things, too, in case you are interested – it was a conversation on the 41st anniversary of Fulton Sheen’s death.
And newly ordained Bishop Bill Byrne of Springfield, Mass., who is familiar to many D.C.ers, talked with me last week about hope and humor and the soul with some helpful practical wisdom about what we’ve been through.
Enough from me for now. Ready or not, the calendar says it’s time. Prayers for your new year. And continued Christmas blessings! Thank you for being a part of our lives at National Review and National Review Institute. We treasure you all and I miss getting to see you!
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