Happy New Year!


The Pope has sung Te Deum for 2009 and prayed the first vespers of the New Year, so it's Catholic 2010, no matter what time it is. No English version of his homily yet (all of Rome's on vacation), but here's an account. Or read it in Italian. In light of the extremely gloomy retrospectives of the year and the decade to be found everywhere, I found this to be a palate cleanser (Bear in mind that while the pope spoke in Italian, I read it in Pidgeono.)
With the Incarnation of the Son of God, eternity enters time and human history becomes opened to the absolute fulfillment of God. Time is "touched" as it were by Christ, the Son of God and Mary, and from Him has received a new and surprising significance: it has become the time of grace and salvation.
Archbishop Martinez makes the point in Secrets of the Interior Life that there's no sense kvetching about whether you're having a good day or a bad one, because there's only ever one kind of day: a perfect one, the one the God who loves you sent you, the one you need for reasons which may be beyond your capacity to fathom. The same is surely true of the past year and the past decade.

Which hasn't been so bad: there have been wars and rumors of wars and scandals and corruption, but there was also the incredible fellow-feeling in the aftermath of 9/11; and Bush atop the rubble with his arm around the fire chief; and the toppling of Saddam's statue in Bagdad square; and "Ladies and Gentlemen, we got 'im!" There was JP the Great's funeral; there is Benedict, the pope of Christian unity (which sometimes seems so close you can taste it); there have also been 50 million people given a chance at liberty if they want it, and Afghan girls back in school; and 10 million people saved from malaria in Africa; and a steady stream of converts from Islam occasioned by Iraqi & Afghan contact with Americans and our allies; we mapped the human genome; we landed Mars rover; we got paralyzed people to walk, relieved Parkinson's and grew new bladders and livers with adult stem cells; we have won the battle against embryonic stem cell use in practice if not in law; a guy landed a commercial jetliner on the Hudson river last January and not one person fell in the river and died of hypothermia. Even the political battles that depress and exhaust me may be good. In politics, even battles you lose can advance your cause, because every debate is a national conversation; at least we're fighting over things that matter.

Well...I don't want to wax either philosophic or Pollyanna. I merely register my distaste for the glooooooom everywhere. Getting back to Benedict:
It's precisely from this perspective that we should consider the closing year and the one about to start, placing the various events of our lives --important or little, simple or unfathomable, joyful or sad-- under the sign of salvation, and accepting the call God extends to us towards a goal that leads beyond time itself: eternity.
May the Almighty forgive what we did wrong in 2009, make up for all we did poorly or left undone, and help us to use 2010 well. Time is filled with grace and salvation.