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Don’t you love the idea, the notion, the concept of a fresh start? I love to read about new beginnings. Or listen to life-changing stories and testimonies of people. They renew and energize us. They give us the opportunity to lift up our heads and our hearts and look toward the future. I am convinced that all of us need this type of boost.

So many things happen to all of us – both good and bad. Why is it, though, that the bad often lingers on and on creating a greyness to the atmosphere of our lives in both our homes and our workplaces? As life goes on, most of us grow tough skin in order to survive, and we try to let these things roll off of us like water off a duck’s back. Even as kindergartners we learned, “Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.” If the truth be told, however, it does hurt. And not just kindergarners. All of us feel the pain.

Yes, so many times the hurts and misunderstandings linger, don’t they? Even harder to admit is the dialog we hold within our own hearts, when we feel badly because we have misbehaved or done something embarassing or hurtful. We can be very hard on ourselves. At least I can.

A priest told me once, “Sister, God has forgiven you. Now you need to forgive yourself.” How true. And not so easy.

“As far as the east is from the west, 
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103

What a comforting thought!

So here we are at the beginning of 2014. Yes, a time for new beginnings and fresh starts. Here at our Motherhouse we have an evening of Thanksgiving on December 31st, the last night of every year. People come from all over southern California. Our chapel is packed with people. They go to confession, and begin the new year with midnight Mass. A new year is beginning and they enter it with souls fresh and clean and joining others for a New Year’s Mass. They ring in the new year with the bells accompanying the consecration of the Mass. This is wonderful. This is beautiful. This is right.

So, at this pivotal time in our society, with so much hanging in the balance in so many different areas of our lives – political, financial, medical, just to name a few – let us lift up our heads and look toward the East, where the sun rises. Let us praise God in newness and joy as we begin anew yet again. May this be a year of graces received and blessings outpoured.

Amen.