The year 2020 will certainly go down in history as one of the most disruptive eras of the millennia. The devastation brought about by the COVID 19 virus upon the world is like no other. With more than 84.5 million lives infected resulting in 1.8 million deaths, the pandemic spread its swath across the globe leaving millions of people in mental and financial disrepair. Yet, amidst the dark clouds, there appears to be a new dawn rising at the horizon.
As Y2020 moves to a close, one begins to sense a mystical eagerness to see a better and brighter year ahead. Thanks be to God – the world will soon see a new dawn rising at the horizon.
New Year’s Eve Celebration
In anticipation of the coming new year, people would usually prepare for a new year’s eve party with overflowing champagne and aperitif. At the stroke of midnight, people would offer a champagne toast, which is usually capped by a display of fireworks. The new year’s eve revelry continues until a new dawn is seen rising at the horizon. Indeed, the cross-over to the new year speeds through with a big bang!
This year, however, the pandemic has changed the New Year’s Eve celebrations. In lieu of the traditional display of fireworks and mass gatherings for the count-down to the new year, people by default isolate themselves in their homes. In effect, the subdued environment of peace paves the way for self-introspection for a better life for the next new year.
“New Year, New Struggle”
Interestingly, back on new year’s eve of 1971, St. Josemaria Escriva adapted the above-mentioned motto. It was a way of reminding those close to him about the importance of struggling to “begin again to live a new life – a fresh, clean life dedicated in generous sacrifice to God. It was not that any drastic changes were needed, and it was not really because he was on the threshold of a new year. The fact is, as he told them, life is a continual starting over; one is always having to repair the rips in one’s interior life, make acts of contrition, and throw oneself into God’s arms, repentant, like the prodigal son. “Human life is in some way a constant returning to our Father’s house. We return through contrition” (Christ is Passing By, 64).
Furthermore, he added that “We have to fight to keep ourselves from being enslaved by sin, and like that we will obtain peace. “Peace is a consequence of war, of struggle, of the intimate ascetical struggle which each Christian must keep up against everything in our life that does not belong to God. We are called to overcome pride, sensuality, selfishness, superficiality, and meanness of heart” (Christ is Passing By, 73) (Vasquez Prada)
For the coming new year, it is worthwhile to spend some time to ponder upon the longings of the heart. It is good to ask ourselves: am I investing in “treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal”? (Matthew 6:20) St. Josemaria, in fact, sternly warns us to be mindful of the folly of selfishness, as seen in point 29 below:
“The limited and pitiful happiness of the selfish man, who withdraws into his shell, his ivory tower . . . is not difficult to attain in this world. But that happiness of the selfish is not lasting.
For this false semblance of heaven are you going to forsake the Joy of Glory without end?St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, 29
Virus of Indifference
Indeed, during these pandemic times, it is so easy to clam up into self-isolation. Such a move could easily be justified as a defensive stance against the virus. However, as St. Josemaria advises in point 29, one needs to guard against falling into the trap of egotism. This situation often leads to disaster in that one begins to lose sight of people who need to be helped. Pope Francis aptly described this in his new book, Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future: “COVID-19 has unmasked the other pandemic, the virus of indifference, which is the result of constantly looking away, telling ourselves that because there is no immediate or magic solution, it is better not to feel anything.”