Each Advent, I choose a spiritual goal for the new liturgical year. I heard about this idea from a friend, Ann Simpson, who lives in Covington, Louisiana, and have been doing it ever since. The first year, I aimed high and chose “charity.” It went soooooo badly that the next year I chose “Getting Upset Well.” My idea was that I kept failing in charity since I routinely got too upset about any little thing. So why not dedicate the next year to the solution of that year’s failure?
The following year I chose humility, since I realized that I got unduly upset out of pride, but I had not advanced one bit in humility by the end of that year. I reflected on the cause, and I surmised that it was because I was still taking myself and everything else too seriously. So I chose “joy” for the following year.
Last year, I chose “gentleness” since I reflected that I am nothing like Our Lady when I am talking to my teenagers and, frankly, many other people in my life. I asked our Lady of Gentleness to be with me each day. Please, do not ask my teenagers how that went.
As we begin a new liturgical year, it is very clear to me what I must do. I need to redo “humility,” which I had failed at so utterly before. With Our Lady of Gentleness beside me, perhaps I can begin to tread on the grounds of humility, not the false humility of self-deprecating remarks and sterile laughs, nor of humiliation and defeat, but the kind that pleases God through and through. I am not sure what that would look like in me, but I know that it can happen only in Christ, the model of humility: “For I am meek and humble of heart” (Mt 11:29). I pray that, if I keep my eye on him every single day, pray, give, serve, forgive, and love with the heart of Christ, he will make me a new creation. “[He] makes all things new” (Rev 21:5).