Editor's Note: During the month of November, as the Year of Faith draws to a close, we will be celebrating all the fruits of this year. Each day we will feature a short reflection from Catholics all over the country and world, sharing what God has done. If you want to share your own fruits with us, email us a short reflection (no more than 500 words, please) to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear how God has blessed you and deepened your faith this year!
Last fall, I was looking for ways to grow spiritually. As a cradle Catholic, like many, my journey has had its ups and downs – times when I have been farther or closer to Christ and His Church. I had been in a “moving closer” phase for some time, but still felt far from where I needed to be. I listened to the Catholic Channel on Sirius/XM satellite radio while traveling, and heard discussions and commentaries about the approaching Year of Faith. It piqued my interest. Therefore, when the Year of Faith was mentioned in Mass or in the church bulletin, it was much more salient and relevant. I viewed it as a challenge or an experiment. I was … excited. What if, for a year, I did something extra, and worked to deepen my faith? Would I hang in there for an entire year? Would anything change? I was hoping so.
I started out planning to add small “things” – preparing for the Sunday liturgy, and reading more religious material (such as the reflections in The Word Among Us or in the My Year of Faith app, religious books, etc.). I was already occasionally attending adoration, but made an effort go more often. Additionally, instead of informally and inconsistently praying randomly before getting out of bed, I made a more concerted effort to give thanks before putting forth my petitions for the day in morning prayer. A friend gave me a daily devotional for Christmas; so, starting in January, I made an effort to have daily quiet reflection time in addition to the getting-out-of-bed prayer. With the approach of Lent, I became more committed to reading the daily readings and reflections. I spent more time reading scriptures and more time in adoration. Adoration is now my favorite place, and I wish I had much more time to read and study scripture. During this Year of Faith, I also tried to learn about and “try out” different Marian devotions and the devotion to Divine Mercy. Each has helped me grow in different ways, whether I embraced it or not. During this time, the help and guidance of my spiritual director was also crucial.
Obviously, not only did I “stick with it” – I RAN with it! As this fall approached, I began to feel a little bit of sadness for the impending conclusion of this special year given to us by our Pope. I briefly worried that I might fall back into a rut, or lose some of my enthusiasm. I am happy to say that now I am simply eagerly waiting to see what’s next. Our Catholic faith is rich. We have much to discover on our individual and communal spiritual journeys. None of us will ever reach perfection in holiness. We will always be moving forward, searching, learning, and hopefully growing closer and becoming more Christ-like. I’m thankful that Pope Benedict asked us to make a special effort this past year. I am changed. I know that I personally have a long way to go, but I will enjoy the ride!
- Joan Dobard, Alexandria, Louisiana