Looking back and looking forward

THE WEEK between the Solemnity of Christ the King (Nov. 25) and the first Sunday of Advent (Dec. 2), which marks the end and the beginning, respectively, of the Church’s liturgical year, is a good occasion to make a review of the year that passed and a plan for the year to come.

I believe this is a good practice that should be promoted widely because our spiritual and apostolic life, as much as possible, should march together with the liturgical rhythm of the year, so to speak.

We have to be aware of the different parts and seasons of the liturgical year. There’s the season of Advent, then Christmas, then a part of what is called as Ordinary Time, then Lent that culminates with the Easter Triduum, then Easter itself, then back to Ordinary Time that ends with the Solemnity of Christ the King. Within the Ordinary Time are different solemnities and feasts related to special events in Christ’s life and the memorials of saints.

We have to understand that the liturgical year presents to us the whole life of Christ and the economy of salvation, from our creation to our glorification with Christ in heaven.

In fact, if we understand the true character of the liturgy, we would know that the liturgy does not only present the life of Christ. That life and redemptive work of Christ, together with their fruits, are made present and actual in a sacramental way. We therefore become actors and participants, agents and beneficiaries of Christ’s redemptive work.

That is why we have to take the Church’s liturgy for the whole year seriously. And as such, we have to be properly trained, developing the appropriate attitude, and aware of the duties and responsibilities as well as the blessings and privileges that the liturgy affords us.

If in the past liturgical year, we have been deficient in our understanding and attitude toward the liturgy, then now is the time to make a new beginning, with desires to make an improvement and growth in our spiritual and apostolic life.

The way things are in the world today, we cannot afford anymore to be casual in this duty. We have to identify as specifically as possible areas in our spiritual and apostolic life which needs improvement. It could be in the aspects of prayer, sacrifice, or in our faith, etc. As much as possible we have to identify the roots of the defects and sins we often commit. We should try our best to know ourselves well — our strengths and weaknesses, etc.

And based on our ‘performance’ of the past year, let us try to make the appropriate strategy for the next year. What practices of piety should we develop or improve? What virtues do we still have to cultivate with greater effort? What means of formation should we avail of? We have to set clear goals.

The way things are now in the world, we really need to be properly equipped and armed to face the many challenges of the times. In this regard, let us not underestimate the need to have a good spiritual director who can help us navigate the tricky waters of today’s world.

There will be new things and new developments that require from us new skills and the appropriate attitudes. We have to know how to flow with the times without getting confused and lost. We have to know what changes we can make in ourselves that would not compromise what is essential in life. Remember what Christ once said: “Pour new wine into new wineskin, and both are preserved.” (Mt 9, 17)

Yes, let’s make use of this week to look back and to look forward!

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Fr. Roy Cimagala is the Chaplain of the Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise, Talamban, Cebu City ([email protected])/PN

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