Weekend Reflection – for you. Offered by Aidan Troy, C.P.
The older I get, the more precious each New Year becomes to me.
On New Year's Eve 1999, I was in Bray, Ireland. From 1994 to 2001, I was living in the Passionist Generalate in Rome as a member of the General Council of our Congregation. It was a huge privilege to serve the Passionists in that capacity. Every few weeks, each member of the General Council returned to Rome from our travels to Passionist communities and missions in various parts of the world to share our experiences and to try to help spread the message of St Paul of the Cross ever wider and deeper. One 'bonus' of those years in Rome was that I could spend Christmas and New Year at home with family and friends. Not having a parish to serve made this possible.
The New Year of 2000 from 1999 was surrounded with hopes and fears. A new Millennium brought hopes for a better future for our world, church, families and people everywhere. Fears arose with speculation that computers would not cope. Fears were expressed that aircraft would be grounded, banks would cease to operate accounts and many such dire consequences.
Well, we survived our fears, even if we did not realise our hopes. Why I also remember that New Year's Eve is that my Dad was in great form and robust health. It was great to spend that special time with him and our family. Little did any of us know that God would call him home not so long after that. Those memories live on and keep alive special times in the last past with those we love. Always treasure moments with those you love.
That New Year home from Italy, I could never have guessed that shortly after the Millennium had begun, I would face one of the greatest challenges of my Passionist life. The blockade of Holy Cross Girls' School began in June 2001 while I was still in Rome. Becoming parish priest of Holy Cross parish in Belfast in August 2001, the proposed reopening of the school on 3 September was one huge challenge for me and this great community. Parents wanted to protect their dearly- loved little children, aged between 4 and 11 years of age. Equally, they didn't want to deny their children an education in a parish school which they loved. We defied the daily blockade from 3 September to 23 November 2001. It was my privilege to walk with these children and their parents twice every day to and from school for those months. It was dangerous amid great violence but God saw us through it without loss of life or physical injury. Some of the psychological and emotional scars live on in some of us to this day. The bonds formed with those children and their families will endure always.
Each New Year reminds me that God is a God of surprises. No matter how many New Years we have 'rung' in, He still has plans for us. We may know nothing of these plans. That does not matter. He knows what is in store for each of us and that is all that counts.
It seems to me, that maybe it is best to leave New Year resolutions to God and be ready to receive what He sends.
I break New Year resolutions that I have made. God doesn't ever break His Word. Looked at this way, we are all going to have a New Year blessed by Him and if it gets tough to accept what He sends, remember He will carry you safely through every storm.
A Happy New Year to all, Aidan, C.P.