A time for spiritual renewal

By  Manfred Von Vulte, Catholic Register Special
  • September 18, 2007

{mosimage}Advertisers have recently picked up upon a theme teachers have known about for time immemorial. Labour Day is indeed the “real” New Year’s Eve. Many young people and adults make new resolutions to do better and to achieve certain goals. Others will choose a new career or again get serious with their lives. Promises in the calendar year are often linked to the new school year, revolving around our relationship with others, the community, the church and God. They often begin with the words, “This year, I am finally going to….” Well, what exactly are you promising to do?

Aside from the laudable academic goals of students, they also question their place within the community and their approach to spiritual goals. This is especially true of children preparing for the sacraments of the Eucharist, Reconciliation and Confirmation. Many young boys and girls recognize they will be taking a further step forward in their faith accompanied by a progression in age and grade level.

Children do not often gaze into the future save for answering the question of what they wish to be. The first day of school is special for them because it is an opportunity where this is possible.

The spiritual renewal for children is time and again found through their reacquaintance with daily prayer and religious studies as well as a Catholic atmosphere to witness and learn their faith. This factor is lost on the supporters of the one-system educational format in Ontario.

Parents whose children are beginning school for the first time, or have had trouble in the past, or are leaving home for university often come by way of spiritual renewal through a wholly different path. One can observe a slight spike in Mass attendance on the Labour Day weekend. There is something quite spiritually comforting about receiving the Lord’s blessing before that daunting first day of school. Parents will say it does indeed set the tone for the academic year. Other adults will finally face the empty nest scenario, if but for a day or those with an older brood for a year.

It is no coincidence this period of time is the opening of many parish councils and the recruitment season for such organizations as the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Women’s League, Legion of Mary and others. Many Catholic parents who finally have their heavenly peace and quiet, suddenly seek out and join these groups. It’s amazing that this “new year” can bring about feelings of commitment to church and community.

God asks Catholics to take time to reflect on our spiritual lives, and our covenant and relationship with Him. A sudden shift in season also tends to bring about a great deal of anticipation, anxiety, hope and dread. It is an excellent time to rededicate our prayer lives and to somehow enhance our friendship and time with Christ, while being more like Him in prayer and practice. This “Second New Year’s Eve” is so much better than the one in December as it is more genuine and plausible to keep to resolutions because we have Christ reminding us of them on a daily basis.

(Von Vulte is a reader and writer from the Toronto area.)

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