I love a fresh start! I take them as often as I can get them. Monday mornings. The first of each month. New semesters, seasons, new projects at work, I see these as chances to take into account the past, look to the future, and start over with a clean slate. So, I do take these days of January pretty seriously and ask myself, “What will I make of this new year?”
But this new year’s resolution post isn’t necessarily about our resolve or our resoluteness at all. This one is about receiving something we’ve already got rather than chasing down something that eludes us. Because God never eludes us.
Fresh starts and new beginnings remind me of the beauty of The Examen prayer, given to us by Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Different from an examination of conscience used before the sacrament of Reconciliation, but similar in recollection – The examen is a daily practice of spending 10-15 minutes recalling where I’ve seen God present and active in my day, today. And then, informed by what I noticed today, I look toward tomorrow – where do go from here? With another new beginning.
Here is one good way to go through the Examen:
Steps to the Examen
- Become aware of the love with which God looks upon me as I begin this examen.
- Take a moment to silent myself, enter into prayer and make the sign of the cross
- Remember all of the blessings of the day, Thank God for the gifts received
- Ask God for the grace to see whatever He wants you to see
- Review the day in Conversation with God, ask Him to help you see when you were living in God’s presence and when you were moving away from God’s love.
- Call to mind any sins committed, shared with the Father who loves you unconditionally, admit anything you are sorry for and experience His mercy.
- With God’s help, make a concrete resolution for the next section of your day, or for tomorrow
On my flight home from Christmas break I felt nervous, and I don’t usually feel nervous when flying. I had no reason to fear my safety – but I did. And as my Dad left me at the airport with a smile and this question, “Are you ready?” My mind went away from the trip and I thought, “am i ready …For death?? For Heaven?!? Not today!!” but I smiled and said, “Yep!” adding in mental prayer, “I’m ready for the flight, God. That’s it. For this flight.”
When I get nervous for my safety – I pray the Memorare like it’s going out of style. walking through security, “Remember O Most Gracious Virgin Mary…”, waiting for my coffee, “…That never was it known…”, walking to my gate, hoping for flight cancellation, “..that anyone who fled to your Protection….” Walking down the jet bridge I prayed, “God. Stop this flight if we’re in danger! Remember O Most Gracious Virgin Mary…” she’s my personal patroness of flying.
At cruising altitude, to distract myself from the turbulence, I took out my laptop and started to write. I prayed for you, reading this blog. I prayed, “Alright God, it’s January, What do you have for us at this next new beginning?”
My next thought was, “I want you to see, you have it. You have My mercy. Like you have My heart.”
The gentleness and humility with which Christ spoke to me brought on a reverent silence.
If I already have it? Why do I beg? I beg Him all the time – like I have to convince Him. All day… I had been begging, “Please God, Please…” And really, all my life, I’ve been begging…
Please God, please! let him text me back! (Ok, so sometimes it’s more trivial!)
Please God, Please! Heal my Dad!
Please God, Please! Save their marriage!
Please God, Please! Let this opportunity work out!
Please God, please! Keep us safe!
Please God, please! Let me make the right choice!
Please God, please! Fulfill my hope!
Is that mercy? When God does what I ask, and when I get what I think I need?
Mercy means, because we have His heart (we all do), we can expect His compassion, his forgiveness, His Divine Favor. We can expect His care for the things we care about; Not just in how things end – but His loving, caring presence in the midst of all of it. We can expect Him to act for our good.
So at 35,000 feet in the air Mercy has shown me a different way – I don’t have to beg.
Sacred Scripture explains:
“I was ready to respond to those who did not ask. To be found by those who did not seek me. I said, ‘Here I Am! Here I Am!’ To those who did not invoke my name. “I have stretched out my hands all day to a rebellious people who walk in a way that is not good…
Thus says the Lord, as when juice is pressed from a cluster, and someone says, “Do not destroy it for there is still good in it.” So will I do for the sake of my servants, I will not destroy them all.” (Isaiah 65:1)
So, if I already have God’s mercy, if God is already here in the present, and in the future – waiting to be found by each one of us, what does that mean for how we live tomorrow?
It means we can, with confidence, have our next new beginning. May our God bless every moment of this new year and every new season we face. And May our prayers feel different, knowing that we already have His mercy, like His heart.
“My past, O Lord, to your mercy; my present, to your love; my future to your providence.” – St. Padre Pio