Happy New Year! My first blogpost of 2009. I am finally coming out of the fatigue I seem to get the last two weeks of the year. It is a blur of Christmas, my birthday, and then the New Year arrives. I seem to celebrate my birthday for an entire week. I always celebrate New Year’s Eve by attending our Vigil Mass for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God. On New Year’s Day, I join with friends to celebrate the birthday of a friend whose birthday is January 1st. This year on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, I watched the Vespers and Solemnity of Mary Mother of God from St. Peter’s on EWTN. Mostly because my Deacon friend said he was to be in the choir on Wednesday and serving communion on Thursday. I may have seen him once. I came closer to recognizing some of the security officers — from when I attended his deacon ordination in October. I find that I do not make New Year resolutions — my SFO fraternity sort of does that for me.
In January, at our first SFO meeting of the year, we draw a name to pray for, a Franciscan saint to journey with, and a verse from scripture, or the Rule for the year. The way this works is a person draws a name and that becomes the person to pray for all year. Then, the person draws the saint and verse for the person whom they will pray for — make sense? You do not draw your own saint or verse. We begin this process by praying over the three baskets. The person who just got their saint and verse then draws the next name.
If you have been following my previous articles, it should not surprise you that I received this to follow all year–
“The Secular Franciscans should express their ardent love for [the Virgin Mary] by imitating her complete self-giving and by praying earnestly and confidently.” — The Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order, 9
If there are two things that characterize 2008 for me, it is first a re-commitment to praying the daily office, well, daily; and secondly, a new devotion to the rosary. The commitment to the liturgy of the hours has been accomplished simply by not turning on the TV when I first wake up and not turning it on when I first walk in the door from work. I then discovered I could add Night Prayer. I add my own petitions before praying the Our Father. I am praying for people now in ways I never did before – and praying for them every day — twice a day.
The rosary — I had only been a random prayer of the rosary. Various encounters had me rethinking this early last year. My SFO fraternity decided to add a Franciscan Crown rosary apostolate. Every Wednesday after our 7PM Mass, a few of us meet in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel to pray the Crown. We’ve been doing this every week for several months now. The glorious thing is that it got me back to attending weekly Wednesday night Mass and I’m lectoring again. [I took a long ministry break while I was finishing my college degree – graduated May 2006 – partly why I got out of the habit of praying the office – all the textbook reading and paper writing] When I was in Rome in October, I prayed the Crown on Wednesday night — well — because it is what I do now. While in Rome, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was celebrated. In the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, I prayed a rosary where they had set up a special place for veneration of a statue of Our Lady of the Rosary.
In December, I really celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. On Fridays, I go to Holy Trinity, a nearby parish that has adoration every Friday and Mass every week night at 7PM. On that Friday, it was a Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe. There were some bilingual parts — but certainly weighted toward more Spanish. This is what I love about the Catholic Mass — it didn’t matter. I pick up words here and there and celebrate anyway. I was with a few of my SFO friends. I followed the procession around their parking lot and stayed for the pageant — the dramatization of Juan Diego and his visit to the bishop regarding Mary. This was all Spanish — again — it didn’t matter. I can follow the story. At my parish on Sunday, it was decided to perform the drama in English at all the English Masses that weekend. What a treat! I bought a small Our Lady of Guadalupe statue at the Abbey Store yesterday.
Throughout the year, I also used Praying the Rosary with the Daughters of Paul in my car to pray the rosary every morning in my commute to work.
What about my saint for the year? I have St. Angela Merici 1470-1540 — a Third Order Franciscan whose feast day is January 27th. I’ll post about her later this month.
Praying that you have a wonderful and blessed 2009.