Wow. Where did the past year go? The Solemnity of Christ the King is bearing down on us this weekend which means Advent is closing in…and this Year of Faith is coming to an end.
If you’re like me, you’re frantically scrambling to figure out what you did to commemorate this Year. I was lucky enough to get to visit the church of my baptism…but only because I was the godfather in a baptism there. I was also lucky enough to have visited the Shrine of our Lady of Guadelupe in LaCrosse, Wisconsin which had been designated as a special place of devotion for the Year, but i found that out after I was there…But I didn’t really do much deliberately.
So my friends, here I am, just like Taryn’s husband and I used to do as college roommates with term papers, scrambling at the last minute to do something…
Inspired by John’s Catholic Cycle from a month ago and with guidance from my local Bishop’s Pastoral Letter written at the beginning of the year of faith, I’m going dip into my hockey fandom and seek to score a Catholic Hat Trick. It is hockey season, after all, and you can join me. Instead of three goals in a hockey game, I’m going to seek these three goals in the next few days, you can too:
1. Learn the Apostles Creed
In Porta Fidei, his letter kicking off the Year of Faith, Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI wrote, “We want this Year to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope…Not without reason, Christians in the early centuries were required to learn the creed from memory. It served them as a daily prayer not to forget the commitment they had undertaken in baptism.”
Profess the Apostle’s Creed daily. Its shorter than the Nicene Creed we profess at Church and it can’t be that hard to memorize. Besides, the next time someone asks you, “what do Catholics believe?’ You can say with conviction and confidence, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty…” and blow them away like Mario Lemieuex did to Minnesota in 1991.
2. Read the Hound of Heaven
Pope Benedict also wrote in Porta Fidei that, “[t]he Year of Faith… is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Saviour of the world…The heart indicates that the first act by which one comes to faith is God’s gift and the action of grace which acts and transforms the person deep within.” Bishop Kagan of Bismarck thought that Francis Thompson’s The Hound of Heaven captured this call to conversion well. Not alone in that sentiment, the Neumann Press Book of Verse wrote of the poem, “and though in sin or in human love, away from God [the soul] seeks to hide itself, Divine grace follows after, unwearingly follows ever after…in that never ending pursuit.”
I intended to read it…a year ago… So no time like the present. Now I’m flying like Bobby Orr.
3. Devote yourself to the use of Holy Water.
Just about every Catholic Church has a Holy Water font in the vestibule or gathering space. Its not just for your kids to drink from while they’re in the back of the Church. Take a bottle of Holy Water home this Sunday after Mass. Bless yourself and your family with it at night before bed, bless them in the morning before you head out. Bless your house with it, bless your car, your office… Holy Water is powerful, St. Teresa of Avila said it put devils to flight. Its a sacramental, reminding us of our Baptism where we first professed our faith.
Profess the Creed while you bless yourself with Holy Water in the mornings. Hopefully you’ll have the Creed memorized and you’ll move forward into the new liturgical year not settling to just be the “Great One” on ice, but seeking true Greatness in the spiritual arena!