January:  an invitation to begin anew

By Sister Kathleen Wegman, SSND

I remember well the feeling of strangeness in spending New Year’s Eve in silence, a holy hour, and various forms of prayer. This was the practice when I was a novice of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. I felt such resistance in thinking that could be how we were “celebrating,” in place of welcoming in the New Year with fun and festivities. I couldn’t grasp it at the time, but as the years have passed, I have come to appreciate the deep wisdom of this practice.

At this point in my life, I long for a time of quiet when welcoming in the New Year. So, what has changed? I now see the value of the “reboot” as it were – to “shut down” in order to begin again. This quiet, contemplative practice is an opportunity to review the past and ready ourselves to be open to new possibilities in the coming year, to embrace the new of the unknown.

I am always amazed at the TV commercials between Christmas and New Year’s. There seem to be an abundance of advertisements for exercise equipment, diet plans, gym memberships, the list goes on and on. Getting in shape and choosing healthy ways of living are good for all of us as we are called to be good stewards of the bodies we have been given. But is that truly all? Have we perhaps neglected looking inward to revisit the stewardship of our hearts? Are we missing something big in the hustle-and-bustle of life?

The beginning of another year is an invitation for each of us to begin anew. Perhaps some of us are facing the new year feeling depleted or haggard; and in that neediness is a clear call to “reboot” and carve out a quiet moment to be with our God in that call to newness.

A love relationship with God is generative, I cannot keep it to myself. My life with God is to permeate my relationships with others. It impels me to give of myself, to participate in making my community a better place for all, to propel me into a life a sacrifice, sharing what I have with those in need.

As I minister here at Catholic Charities, I often take the opportunity to glance into the eyes of those we serve.  When I truly see another and take time to connect, even if only visually, it changes my perspective on the other. There is an experience of oneness and common desire. It is a discovery of being more alike than different. And in these encounters, a reflection of God; but they’re easy to miss if we are run-down, our energy overspent with no chance to collect or recharge.

As you reboot for this new year, what newness are you called to embrace? Will you resolve to better care of yourself? Of others?

This year I resolve to make that time to truly see others, whether I encounter them at the grocery store or at work. If you don’t yet have a resolution in mind, I invite you to join me in taking the time to intentionally “see” others, to acknowledge them, and to appreciate them. 

I am convinced that this small practice will change your life. Try it!

Sister Kathleen Wegman, SSND, is the Senior Director of Mission Integration for Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri. In her role, she provides orientation and on-going formation of the staff in the Catholic Social Teachings, the bedrock of the ministry of Catholic Charities.  In addition, she is attentive to shepherding those social teachings in every aspect of the ministries provided at Catholic Charities.