St. John Paul II greets throngs of Poles waiting for a glimpse of their native son at the monastery of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa during his 1979 trip to Poland. CNS photo/Chris Niedenthal

Speaking Out: In 2021, feed the culture of life

By  Mary French, Youth Speak News
  • January 6, 2021

The new year has arrived, a time many seize as an opportunity to reset, make resolutions and start fresh. This year, I’m sure the question resonates with many around the world — could 2021 please be better than 2020? 

The truth is, as Catholics, we believe that God’s mercies are new every morning, not just the beginning of each new year. Because of this, 2021 can certainly be better than 2020 because it is not what happens to us that determines the quality of our life, but how we react. Many of us set goals for ourselves each New Year, yet how often do we reassess where we are in our spiritual life? Accepting the challenge of faith may seem daunting amid many trials, but ironically, it is during adversity when we are starved for a healthy spiritual life all the more. 

Christmas just passed, a celebration of Christ who came down into the darkness to shed light on the world. Today, we cannot experience this light in the same way the shepherds did that first Christmas, but Christ is just as present among us in another way. Today, Christ calls us not only to accept His life, but to share it with others.

This year, instead of the usual resolutions, what about a different kind of challenge: How can I help feed a culture of life?

“Because we have been sent into the world as a ‘people for life,’ our proclamation must also become a genuine celebration of the Gospel of life,” writes John Paul II in the encyclical Evangelium Vitae (1995). “To celebrate the Gospel of life means to celebrate the God of life, the God who gives life.”

I cannot underrate the severe misfortunes many of us face — COVID-19 related or not. More than ever, we need the reassurance of Christ’s presence. Yet, there is still light and life within us. In troubling times, Christ is no longer walking on this Earth the way He did beginning with that first Christmas many years ago. Now, He is present in the Eucharist to give us strength. Consequently, He is also present in us, which means it is up to us to be present to the need and suffering around us. We must be rebels and warriors in quite a unique sense: It is up to us to hold onto the life God has given us, sharing it with the culture around us. 

This message reminds me of words my spiritual director once told me: that paramount to the spiritual life is maintaining a eucharistic mentality. One distinctive thing that sets Christians so rebelliously apart is that our faith is full of celebration, joy and thanks. To carry the eucharistic mentality with us means we look for ways to be thankful in all the little things, and to share this attitude with others as well. This, our faith suggests, also helps us grow in our potential.

For many Catholics, being unable to receive Christ in the Eucharist this Christmas was a brutal reality. But we can still hold Christ’s presence through the coming year. Whether it’s saturating our day in a constant conversation with God, a thankful attitude, looking for Him in others or being mindful and loving in all we do, an active prayer life goes beyond our regular prayers. It can become an inseparable part of our life, woven intricately within our days, and, as the catechism testifies, we may be surprised by the strength that sharing a culture of life can give us.

This year we have the opportunity to create and spread life and light to those around us — 2021 can throw us all it’s got, but nothing can take away our power to create goodness in the lives of others. Reaching out to others is never impossible, and with the technology of today, we are blessed with so many diverse ways of doing so.

(French, 22, has a Bachelor’s of Catholic Studies from Seat of Wisdom College and lives in Barrie Ont.)

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