Lord Jesus, I come to you in this brand new year with a desire to move forward, not backward. Last year is gone, and with it all the foolish mistakes I made. I’m eager to put the past behind and to press on toward the mark of knowing you, loving you, serving you, and making Your name known in this coming year.
I don’t ask for cheap grace, because I know it cost You, Your life. You gave everything for me, so I could have a new beginning—every day of every year. Thank You for Your underserved favor and unlimited mercy—and Your grace, that keeps on giving. Thank You for making me Your child. Forgive me for ignoring Your voice at times, for pursuing my own pleasures, and for letting my priorities slip. Your promise is like gold to me: Your offer of forgiveness, Your unfailing compassion, and Your new mercies daily.
I need You, Lord. Without You, I can’t meet the heavy demands of life or the unrelenting pressures that I’ll face this coming year. I am making a new commitment today—not a New Year’s resolution—but a new desire to place You where You always belong, first place in my life. Make the “I will’s” of Scripture become my affirmations: “I will trust You; I will praise You; I will follow You.” I will replace fear with faith, knowing You are always with me. And with You on my side, it will be a victorious New Year.
I lay down my broken armor, my rusty tools, my self-defenses, and every excuse I’ve used for not living victoriously. Purge my bad habits; free me from wrong expectations; and fill my heart, soul, and mind with praiseworthy thoughts and actions. I want to exchange my past disappointments for Your divine appointments this year. My life is Yours; my relationships belong to You; everything I have is Yours, Jesus. Set my feet on the right path this year, and grant wisdom so I can make right choices that will honor You. Let me see others like You see them, as precious ones You created. Renew the gifts and abilities You’ve so generously given me so I can bless others as You’ve blessed me.
I realize my desire for perfection is misplaced. My relationship with You doesn’t depend on my performance, but upon Your presence in my life. I will make mistakes. But I don’t have to be perfect! You’ve already made me acceptable in Your sight because of Your death and resurrection. You covered my past, present, and future. You have given me everything I could possibly need for the coming year. In You, I am complete, Lord. Help me to accept my faults and make Your mirror my own. I want to reflect You daily.
Because of Your love and the price You paid for my sin, I can not only enjoy a victorious new year, but a triumphant life. You put a new “want-to” in my life and in my heart. And as the calendar turns another page in this brand new year, I want more than ever, to live it for You. There is no battle in my life too great with You in my life. There is victory in You, Jesus!
By: Rebecca Barlow Jordan
By Gerald M. Fagin, SJ
Mary at her Annunciation models faith for us. She shows us that faith is more than assent, but is also trust, commitment, obedience, and submission. Mary trusted in God’s promises, was obedient to God’s word of invitation in her life, surrendered to the mystery before her, and committed herself to be part of God’s plan of salvation in Jesus.
At the same time, we can easily romanticize the Gospel scene—Mary is at prayer, an angel appears, and she says a faith-filled yes. The Scripture also tells us that she was deeply troubled and wondered what the angel’s greeting meant. Certainly the angel’s explanation only left her with more questions and concerns. She did not say yes because she fully understood or had all her questions answered. She said yes in faith and trust. We do Mary a disservice to think she had some infused knowledge that dispelled all her doubts. She was a young woman of extraordinary faith. The “yes” at the Annunciation was not the first “yes” in her life nor would it be the last.
The really significant yeses in our lives also demand a great deal of trust and openness. We cannot know all the implications of them. We respond to the gift of God’s call in our lives. We say yes in hope and trust. Like Mary, we say “yes” to something being born in us that must grow and mature and take a shape we cannot predict. We are called to that depth of faith as we contemplate the story of the Annunciation and all the stories of the life of Jesus in the rest of the [Spiritual] Exercises. We are called to trust, obedience, surrender, and commitment in our own lives. We will hear an invitation to share in the work of Jesus and respond and live in faith.
Living in faith demands surrender to the stories of God and Jesus recorded in the Scriptures. Christian faith especially demands that we let the stories of Jesus shape our minds and hearts. Paul Wadell says that to live in faith means that we “appropriate these stories, striving to embody their viewpoints, values, and vision as our own. To assent to the truths of faith portrayed in the Scripture is to allow them to become the interpretative framework for our world.”
Wadell feels we need these narratives “to mold and shape us, especially in the attitudes and virtues of Jesus.” Ignatian imaginative prayer on the Gospel stories is a powerful way to grow in faith by putting on the heart of Christ. As Jesus trusted, obeyed, surrendered, and committed his life to the Father, we are to respond in the same way. All the contemplations on the Gospels throughout the Exercises foster growth in the virtue of faith that empowers us to trust God and commit ourselves to service.
Excerpt from Putting on the Heart of Christ: How the Spiritual Exercises Invite Us to a Virtuous Life by Gerald M. Fagin, SJ.
Tuesday, December 1
O Transformer of Sorrow, Come
Baruch 5:1 Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem, and put on for ever the beauty of the glory from God.
O Transformer of Sorrow, Come~
When our hearts are heavy and burdened
with sorrow or affliction,
with rage or unforgiveness,
open us to your transforming grace.
May your solace, your wisdom and your mercy
flow though us so that
our struggles turn into lessons,
our sorrows become infused with hope,
our resentments are transformed
Fill our anxious and grieving hearts
with your life-giving peace and comfort.
Prayerful Path/Mary Maddox