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New Year Reflection 2016

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Church of the Immaculate Conception

Happy New Year and a blessed 2016!

Have you made your New Year’s resolution(s) yet? Do you ever? I never do and probably never will.

Maybe because in our Catholic tradition there are so many new seasons – Ordinary time to Advent to Christmas to Lent to Easter and back to Ordinary time. Each new season calls for new and different responses/resolutions from us as individuals and as a faith community.

Ordinary time calls us to fidelity and joy amidst the ordinary and daily living of our faith. Advent, the season of waiting and anticipation, asks us to sharpen our awareness of all the ways God is with us, all the ways God comes to us – all days of the year. We spend time during Lent being aware of the ways we need forgiveness and the ways we need to extend forgiveness. And Easter! How we celebrate the mystery of the gift Jesus gives through his resurrection – life that is “changed but not ended.”

Perhaps I’m not too inclined to make New Year resolutions because there are a slew of other ways necessitating re-evaluation of my life and its commitments: my birthday, the anniversaries of my entrance into the Sisters of Providence and of my profession of final vows, and of my 25th and 50th jubilees as a Sister of Providence. Celebrating these calls me to quiet and looking at how I am being faithful to these primary commitments, life choices I’ve made.

The sacrament of reconciliation provides another new beginning, an opportunity to “make a firm purpose of amendment” knowing we are forgiven and loved by a merciful God who strengthens our resolve to make the life changes we so hope for ourselves. It also opens our hearts and creates empathy for others; we all share a brokenness that manifests in different ways in all of us.

Probably I don’t make New Year resolutions because I can’t or don’t even keep “daily” resolutions for very long. Examples? “I am going to get over being annoyed by the same person who always annoys me.” Sometimes the very next time I encounter the person, I am already annoyed. “I am going to exercise three mornings a week.” The first morning I am to begin it’s raining so I’d better stay in my warm bed. “I will eat healthy.” That afternoon, a gift box of caramels arrives. They are hand made by a cloistered community of nuns of the Abbey of Our Lady of the Mississippi. Eating them supports the mission of their community and two pieces are always better than one – right? So how could I possibly refuse? “I’ll clean out my closet and give clothes away that I haven’t worn in the course of the past year.” Then all of a sudden I remember I haven’t finished reading my novel and it’s due at the library in a couple of weeks. Better finish the book first.

Well, no matter my personal shortcomings in keeping resolutions, I am most grateful for the beginning of a New Year and a new opportunity to pray that the God of Providence continues to be present to you in all the circumstances of your daily life.

One resolution I faithfully keep is to pray daily for all of our friends and benefactors and for all who ask our prayer. Happy and bright New Year!

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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  1. Donna Butler on January 5, 2016 at 9:41 am

    I loved it. And oh how I can identify with it!!!!

    I do love the liturgical seasons even as I love living in a location that has four seasons: spring, summer etc. . They each bring their special gifts and sacred moments.

  2. Bill Hughes on January 5, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Denise. Thank you for your post. I’m with you all the way: not making resolutions New Year’s, and not keeping the daily ones all too often. With regard to “being annoyed by the same person who always annoys me” I love what Bishop Catherine Waynick (Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis) said recently: “When I know I’m about to go into a meeting with such a person, I pray, “God, please show me just one thing one I can love about that person.’ “

  3. Linda Drummy on January 5, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    Dear Sister Denise,
    All I know is that you are a wise woman who makes me smile!!

  4. Ann Clem on January 9, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    I think I left my comment in the wrong place. What else is new? Thanks for a beautiful, realistic message on resolutions. I have enough trouble dealing with the necessities of TODAY! You have been a blessing to the Sisters of Providence and those around you!


  5. Nell Trainor on January 17, 2016 at 9:00 am

    I resolved to tell you last week how much I appreciated these words. So if you get this message, know that as usual, you always have just the right words at just the right time! Thanks✌️

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