By Deacon John DeGano
I’m sure most of us know where we were on New Year’s Eve. After all, we had basically two choices: We either stayed home and avoided the traffic or else we ventured out and attended one or more parties to ‘ring in the New Year.’ If not one of these, maybe we were in mid-travel either up in an airplane or driving along some interstate in order to reach our final destination.
In any case, we have probably already begun thinking where we plan to be next year and may have already begun adjusting our schedules and vacations around the promise of parties (and gatherings) future.
And that is good. As Roman Catholics we are called to be people of hope. And people of celebration. We celebrate life. We celebrate the sacraments. We celebrate our faith with holy days and feast days. And we look forward to the future, when our Lord Jesus will return in triumph and take us all home to be with him forever.
So where then, were we on New Year’s Day?
I will hazard a guess that many of us were not in church. January 1, the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, is what the church calls ‘a holy day of obligation.’ A day when we are obliged to attend mass in recognition of an important person or event in the life of our faith.
This year, however, we were exempt from the ‘obligation’, so many of us slept in, watched sporting events or perhaps relaxed with family and took in a rare matinee showing at the local theater.
All reasonable ways to celebrate life, but did we give any cursory thought to our commitment as disciples to witness our faith to others by our words and actions?
I was talking with Robert, one of our ushers (and a catechist), about the confusion that ensued (in many parishes) over whether or not this really was a holy day of obligation or not this year, when he reminded me that every day is a holy day of opportunity.
Every day is a day to draw breath. Every day is an opportunity to fall in love all over again with the God who made us.
And so we should greet the new dawn with joyful anticipation. Never knowing what the Lord has in store for us this day or who the Lord will send our way for us to minister or to minister to us.
That next person who calls or knocks on our door could be Jesus. We need to borrow the motto of our Benedictine brothers and sisters and apply it to our daily lives – “welcoming all as Christ.”
Treating each day with intentionality by setting aside a portion of our day to glorify God in prayer, in song, in how we treat one another (i.e., by our words and actions) will testify to the world that we are witnesses of His love.
Let us make each day of this Year of Faith a holy day of opportunity to bless and be blessed by our loving God.
John DeGano is a deacon serving at St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Riverside.
PUBLISHED IN THE FEBRUARY 2013 INLAND CATHOLIC BYTE