Living each day in joy and peace

The Christmas celebrations are beginning to wind down. Culturally things wrap up with the New Year’s celebrations on Monday. Liturgically, we will go for another week, but then return to Ordinary Time. Next week it is back to school for our children and youth. In many respects, life goes back to normal.

The problem for us Christians is that it isn’t supposed to be life as usual. At Christmas we didn’t mark a significant anniversary. We celebrated “God is with us.” This truth isn’t a once-a-year visit, but is each day, meaning the sentiments of peace, joy and goodwill to all aren’t meant to be seasonal. They are meant to be a way of life.

To live the joy of “God is with us” each day, we must recognize that He is indeed present. We need to see with the eyes of faith. This is why the Christian life is a 24/7 lived experience.

Time must be spent celebrating the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation. These are very real encounters with Jesus Christ Himself. They give us the graces to live authentically our identity as children of God. In addition, we need to take time each day for prayer and devotions. These keep us focused on the Lord, tuned in to His voice. They are how we can recognize that God is with us each day.

These graces and connections to God also allow us to draw strength from Him and persevere through the “daily grind” so we don’t get swept away by the chaos and darkness that exist in the world. 

However, even more is necessary. Our ability to live each day in joy, peace and goodwill towards all also comes from our intellectual formation. A healthy Spiritual life means we can’t check our brains at the door. Truth in its perfection is found in God. Our relationship with the Lord, our Spiritual growth, also requires that we take time to learn and discover. Yes, going to school is a religious activity! Many feel that faith is a hindrance to reason. Far from it! 

Faith gives us the motivation and stability to not only make new discoveries, but also to allow ourselves to be challenged. That is how real growth occurs.

I often tell people that I would be OK if the stores played Christmas music all year round. Maybe if we constantly reminded ourselves of the desire to live in joy, peace and with goodwill for all, we would seek to do what is necessary to live this way 24/7, 365 days a year.

Anchor columnist Father Frederici is pastor of St. George Parish in Westport and diocesan director of Campus Ministry and chaplain at UMass Dartmouth and Bristol Community College.

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