I’m writing this as we start a new year; a year when many of us want a new start.
Personally, I really needed a new start. As last year came to an end, I had fallen into a serious funk. At times, I honestly thought I was losing grip on myself. I was suffering from a pile of wounds, frustration, and angst.
My birthday falls at the end of the year. Growing up, that usually meant that my friends were too busy with their families to attend my birthday parties. This past birthday, I wondered if I would even attempt to celebrate at all.
Snapped Out of It
A few days before my birthday came around, I received an unexpected text message. It was a friend, simply asking, “Any birthday plans?”
That simple act of care & thoughtfulness did something powerful. I realized that I didn’t want to start my new year of life feeling the way that I had been for weeks. I wanted to be a different person. I wanted to be happy.
We made plans to talk on the phone. When we spoke, I told my friend about how they had helped me, and I thanked them.
You Never Walk Alone
Last year felt very lonely for me for a multitude of reasons. However, I found comfort in knowing that I am never alone in the communion of saints.
The Church is a “communion of saints”: this expression refers first to the “holy things” (sancta), above all the Eucharist, by which “the unity of believers, who form one body in Christ, is both represented and brought about.”
– Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 960
Jesus gave us this amazing gift when he gave us the Eucharist: a celebration that mystically unites us with him and with all who have faith in him—unhindered by the limits of space and time! So, when you are feeling lonely, remember that each time you participate spiritually and physically in the Eucharistic celebration, Holy Mass; you are united to a tremendous family!
The term “communion of saints” refers also to the communion of “holy persons” (sancti) in Christ who “died for all,” so that what each one does or suffers in and for Christ bears fruit for all.
– CCC, no. 961
Jesus also gives us the gift of friendship; with himself and with all in his community of friendship.
Friendship is so important that Jesus calls himself a friend: “I do not call you servants any longer, but I call you friends” (John 15:15). By the gift of his grace, we are elevated in such a way that we truly become his friends. With the same love that Christ pours out on us, we can love him in turn and share his love with others, in the hope that they too will take their place in the community of friendship he established.
– Pope Francis, Christus Vivit, no. 153
Begin Again, with A Friend
Two years ago here at Pilgrim Center of Hope, we as a staff began each choosing a friend among the communion of saints with whom we felt called to walk throughout the year. Each month, we get together to share something we’ve learned from our saint-friend. Through this journey, we’ve found great encouragement and personal growth through our relationships with these friends.
You can do this, too. It’s an awesome “new start” you can take-on in your personal or family life!
Each year, my journey-friend from the communion of saints has been…
- A Friend: Someone with whom I’ve found things in common
- An Intercessor: Someone in whom I’ve confided & asked for prayers – and I’m truly convinced that they’ve interceded for me
- A Role Model: Someone whose virtuous life has inspired me to become the person God has made me to be
- A Teacher: Someone whose spirituality & wisdom have taught me invaluable lessons
How do I ‘choose’ a friend each year? Perhaps this will give you ideas for your personal journey…
- My 2019 Friend: Blessed Miguel Pro – I’d been given a relic of his before, and I knew that my family had a connection to him. I’d also heard stories about his sense of humor, and I wanted to grow in not taking life so seriously (a pesky personal tendency). So, I borrowed a book about him and began reading a chapter each month, taking notes each time.
- My 2020 Friend: Saint Catherine of Siena – I knew very little about her; she was quite mysterious to me. I did know that she had been a bridge-builder between people, and I had been sensing a calling to become a bridge-builder myself. So, I started to listen to an audio recording of her greatest work, The Dialogue. I kept a list of lessons she taught me on my phone.
- My 2021 Friend: Saint Oscar Romero – During 2020, I kept coming across spiritual reflections that struck me profoundly. Upon looking at the author’s name, I found it was him. So, knowing that he had been a martyr during a tumultuous period in his country’s history, I decided that I would claim him as my journey-friend for the not-so-easy year ahead. Already, I’ve been able to listen to his recorded homilies, and have typed up notes from what struck me.
Are you convinced yet? Now is a great time to “begin again” …and you can! Jesus offers you himself and all of his friends, to help you. Have hope!
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.
Angela Sealana is Media Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, having served at the apostolate since 2010. She also serves on the PCH Speaker Team.