The Last Day of the Year
1. The last day of the year has come. It should be a day of reckoning and of resolution. Think of the many benefits which God has conferred on you throughout your life, but especially in the year which is now drawing to a close.
Count the temporal favours which you have received. Many of your friends and acquaintances have died during the year, but you are still alive. God has rescued you from innumerable perils and illnesses. He has allowed you more time in which to perfect your spiritual life and to perform apostolic work on your neighbour's behalf. Try not to be like the barren tree in the Gospel, because this could be your final year of trial.
Count the spiritual blessings which you have received. Think of the graces and good inspirations which God has given you during the past twelve months. How often have you received forgiveness for your sins, been restored to the friendship of God, and experienced anew the joy and peace of being in the state of grace? How often has Jesus come into your heart under the guise of the Blessed Eucharist? How often have you been enlightened and encouraged by hearing or reading the word of God? Think, too, of the good example which you have received in private and in public, and recall the many occasions on which the helping hand of God has reached out to save you from falling into sin.
You could never show sufficient gratitude for all these favours. Spend this day at least in acts of repentance and thanksgiving, and promise God to be faithful to Him in the coming year.
2. Now that the year is almost over, cast your mind back to the good resolutions which you made at the beginning of it. Have you put these resolutions into effect? Has there been any improvement in your spiritual life during these twelve months, or must you confess that it has deteriorated? How often have you committed sin, perhaps even grave sin, during the year? When God appealed to you to perform some good action, how often did you refuse Him?
Your future outlook is very dark if your life has developed into a gradual descent towards evil. Any day God could grow tired of your ingratitude and obstinacy and send death to end your infidelity. Then you would almost certainly be damned forever. If you have surrendered to spiritual languor and mediocrity, therefore, it is time for you to stir yourself. It is time to become more generous with God, to display a greater spirit of self-sacrifice in responding to His appeals, and to form firmer resolutions.
Virtue cannot co-exist with spiritual tepidity, which leads inevitably towards sin.
3. After he had spent a night fishing on the lake of Galilee without having caught anything, St. Peter was ordered by Jesus to cast his nets back into the sea. “Master,” the future Apostle replied, “the whole night through we have toiled and have taken nothing; but at thy word I will lower the net.” This act of perfect confidence in our Lord was soon rewarded, for when the fishermen lowered the net, "they enclosed a great number of fishes." (Luke 5:5-6)
Perhaps we have toiled hard and made many sacrifices during the past year. But have we worked with and for Jesus Christ? We may have thought more of ourselves than of Jesus and as a result achieved little or nothing in the spiritual life. The remedy is clear. We must remain close to Jesus, working with Him, in Him, and for Him. Then He will bless and strengthen the good resolutions which we are about to make. The secret of perfection is to live in constant union with Jesus Christ.
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