The end of the old year for many is an orgy of excess, as though the last day of the year is the final opportunity in life for hedonistic delights. So eat, drink, and be merry and, for some - hopefully not many - drunk-driving collisions.
How will you say good-bye to the old year? I plan to look back, consider the blessings of the past year and its challenges, the things that bring a song of grateful praise to my lips and those that make me blush with embarrassment or shame. For the first I'll thank God; for the second I'll ask His mercy. And I can't think of a better way to welcome the new year than attending the vigil Mass and praying the rosary with my husband, offering it for our family and asking for all the graces to be better Catholics in the year ahead than we were in the year behind us.
Then as the song says, "We'll drink a cup of kindness yet for auld lang syne." Maybe that cup will be filled with Irish coffee (decaf at that hour of the night) or maybe a little red wine in honor of a favorite writer:
"Wherever the Catholic sun does shine there is music, and laughter, and good red wine." Hillaire Belloc
And I'm sure that goes for the Catholic moon as well.
Turning out all the lights except for those on the Nativity scene and the Christmas tree, with carols on the stereo and maybe a blazing fire in the fireplace will set the scene for a peaceful passing of the old year and anticipation of the new. Despite the economic challenges and concerns about the growing darkness in our culture of death, every new year is a time of hope. Remember St. Thomas More's admonition that there is no time so evil a good man cannot live in it.
Resolve to live for Christ in 2009. Make it a year of thanksgiving for all your blessings, sharing those blessings with others less fortunate, and recalling often Pope John Paul II's frequent encouragement to "Be not afraid" and Padre Pio's "Pray, hope, and don't worry."