January 2019 Four County Catholic
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:12
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Last month at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Gales Ferry, we, as a diocese, had the distinct honor of hosting the Incorrupt Heart of Saint John Vianney, the patron saint of priests working in parishes. There were hundreds in attendance for viewing and veneration, as part of our Monthly Holy Hour for Vocations. As I watched many of you kneeling at the reliquary that holds the relic of this Saint, I felt humbled by your presence. We are entering a new year of exceptional challenge, significance and milestones as a community of faith. Your presence at the Holy Hour demonstrates how strong our faith is in the Diocese of Norwich.
We are living in a troubled world. Saint John Vianney lived during a troubled time in history, the French Revolution. We can learn from the example set by this humble priest. The solution is not to concede to injustice, immorality, excess and disrespect for life. The solution is to be in communion with God through prayer and living our faith not simply professing it.
Traditionally, this is the time of year for making resolutions. For many, the dawn of a new year brings about thoughts of new beginnings, a fresh start, an opportunity to reach personal goals. We know that there is merit in improving both physically and mentally, after all Saint Paul tells us “our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). One aspect of our wellbeing that should not be overlooked is our spiritual nature.
A few years ago, when speaking with Vatican employees and their families, Pope Francis shared this thought, “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are . . . Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention and love.” Meditating on these two directives will lead to tangible acts.
Saint John Vianney’s words can help us to create resolutions that will deeply impact our lives both here on earth and eternally with God. He said, “Do not try to please everybody. Try to please God, the angels, and the saints—they are your public.” How many times do we find ourselves acting in a way to seek the approval of others? I recently read that 23% of everyone who makes a resolution sees it through to completion. Why do the other 77% fail at their attempt at a better life? According to experts in these matters, people have trouble persevering with their resolutions because they aren’t specific enough and are too far reaching. For instance, rather than resolving to read the Bible from cover to cover, instead, vow to read the daily readings and perhaps a short commentary.
As Catholics we are not unfamiliar with the concept of resolutions. When we participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, with our whole heart and in complete faith and openness, we are making a fresh start, reconciling ourselves to God and to the Church. There is perhaps no better New Year resolution than the one the psalmist wrote, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)
Be confident in your faith. Be confident this New Year, that as the days grow longer and your faith grows stronger, the words of Saint John Vianney will become true for each and everyone of us- “It is always springtime in the heart that loves God”.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Michael R. Cote, D.D.