My first surprise for 2015 was not pleasant: I spent the first few days of January sick in bed!
Right after Christmas, I caught a bad flu and just as I thought I was getting well, a relapse totally knocked me down on New Year’s Eve. (I’m feeling much better now, thanks to the TLC of several sisters, lots of bed rest and a surprising amount of cold medicine.)
My second surprise of the new year was much more pleasant: the time I needed to spend in bed has proven to be unexpectedly fruitful! Being so sick, I had to really slow down. For the past two months, I’d been “caught up” in learning new social media, numerous writing assignments, and book promotion trips, to the point where I wasn’t getting the extra quiet space that I need for reflection and prayer. Now that I’ve started to shift the balance, I’m starting to feel more joy, more energy, and more intentionality in my life and for the mission. And this is really important because already 2015 offers us many hopes but also many challenges.
(An interesting note: when our prolific founder, Blessed James Alberione, used to be sick enough to go to bed for a few days, he’d call it a retreat arranged by God. And he’d emerge from his sickroom brimming with new ideas and initiatives. I guess in my own small way, I’m experiencing the same thing.)
One small way I’m shifting the balance? Every night I’m making it a point to thank God for the special graces of the day—a habit I’d let go of. Spending time in thanksgiving every day is a wonderful “attitude adjustment” that allows me to live in a greater appreciation of life, even in the midst of the struggles and challenges. Seeing the beauty and joy of life is a foundation for a pro-life attitude that can transform our “culture of death” into a “culture of life.” Gratitude reminds us of the giftedness of our lives, and the more profoundly we are aware of the giftedness of our personal lives, the more we understand the tremendous gift that each person, each life, is to the world.
(Join in the special 9 Days for Life Novena,
sponsored by the U.S. Bishops running from January 17-25, 2015. You can even download the app for the Novena from iTunes or GooglePlay stores, or join through text or email.)
Thanksgiving is not just a more joyful way of living, it’s a profoundly Marian way of living. Throughout the Christmas season, the Gospel of Luke has reminded us how Mary said “yes” to the gift of new life and how she “treasured” and “pondered” both the joyful and puzzling events of her life with her Son. This year, I feel Mary inviting me to slip under her mantle and join her in this attitude of thanksgiving in all the events of our lives.
This week, when Pope Francis visited the shrine of Our Lady of Madhu in Sri Lanka, he talked about how at this shrine every pilgrim feels at home because Mary brings them into the presence of her Son. We, too, can feel safe and at home under Mary’s mantle of loving care for us—a mantle that reminds us to live in a spirit of gratitude for the gift of life in this new year.
Sister Marie Paul Curley, FSP, is the author of Soul of Christ: Meditations on a Timeless Prayer and See Yourself Through God's Eyes: 52 Meditations to Grow in Self-Esteem. She is currently blogging a new book on discernment.