The New Year came in last night rather softly here. I was in our chapel where we were free to spend time closing the old year and beginning the New year with Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament. Close to midnight I could here some fireworks and other noise in the distance, yet it was good to begin this year in the company of the One who came to bring us real happiness. To help me focus on the needs of friends and family, I actually began to write names in my notebook: family members, Sisters, Cooperators, priests whom I know, and many more. In fact, there were more names than I could count. I remembered especially a young man who suffers from mental illness. About a month ago, his mother had purchased my book "Tender Mercies, Prayers for Healing and Coping." At that time, the young man was hospitalized. It appears he did read some of the book and was helped by it. His form of illness and depression makes him think that he is not loved by God. That's a heavy burden to carry around. I assured him that he is certainly loved by God. In fact, God "loved him into existence" and his love sustains him each moment. I ask all of you who read this blog to pray for this young man, and for his mother. She is a strong woman who is coping as best she can with her son's illness. There is a prayer/support group for those who suffer from mental illness, and for their family members and friends: the Guild of St. Benedict Labre'. There is no such Catholic group yet here in Toronto that I am aware of. The Guild helps many people in this situation.
As we begin this New Year, we begin in hope as Pope Benedict tells us. Hope runs deeper than mere optimism. It sees the realities of the political unrest is so many nations, the violence and wars going on. yet, hope is planted or rooted in God, not in science or any material source.
I thank God for granting me and you the grace to begin a New Year. Later this year, we will begin a year-long celebration in honor of St. Paul. That "year" will begin on June 29. Until then we can, as St. Paul tells us, "live in love, and let the Word of Christ dwell in us."