As we say goodbye to another year of unsettlement, disappointment and uncertainty, can we even begin to hope as the clock chimes in 2022? If we can use the words of Jochen Klepper “Neujahrslied” in his work Kyrie (Berlin: Merseburger, 1938):
New Year’s Song – in translation
O you who hold all times in your hands,
Lord, take also the burdens of this year
and transform them into blessings.
Now that you yourself have clearly shown
in Jesus Christ the centre of the ages,
lead us toward this goal.
Since all our human striving
melts before our very eyes,
bring it yourself to fruition. . .
We travel across your anger,
and yet your grace springs up
though out empty hands. . .
And these gifts alone, O Lord,
give substance and value to our days. . .
. . . remain graciously turned toward us
and lead us by the hand,
so that we may walk secure.
maybe we can hear – if we pause to listen – deep within our hearts – some echo of promise and healing. So many of us bear the scars of loss, sadness and heartache, let alone loneliness and frustration that we have carried this past year – Not only as victims of a pandemic, trapped in our own society but also, seeing vulnerable people and nations struggling and, in some cases, forgotten.
As champagne corks pop and wine flows, fireworks sparkle and lighten our skies, welcoming the New Year in, we ask ourselves: what do all our good wishes at the beginning of the New Year depend on for their fulfilment? The events of the past year has taught us much: each person alone is responsible for his or her future happiness or unhappiness!
We are also responsible for the happiness or unhappiness of our neighbours and the wellbeing of society and our common home. And more in keeping with the readings of this Christmas Season, the happiness of our lives depends on God’s blessing – God knows best what is for our own good, and that often, crosses and suffering can lead to blessing.
These sentiments are also reflected in Felix Mendelssohn’s “Neuyahrslied” 6 Lieder Op 88. His haunting choral work reaches depths unknown in our busy, troubled world, taking us to another plain and level of understanding that something greater than us IS at work.
The Feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, inscribes over the door of the New Year two names: Jesus and Mary. Jesus himself is the helping God, the healer of the world, that we must inscribe not only on the doorpost but also in our hearts, on our lives, seeing him as the way, the truth and the life in our everyday existence. “There is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.
Secondly, we see in Mary, our heavenly mother, profiting by her prayers and example “Do whatever he tells you.”
Let us today be heartened by the heritage of wisdom and writings cherished and preserved over the centuries that address all that the past year’s sorrows and situations have thrown at us . . . and be chastened by the promise of our God, who despite these unprecedented times, will never forget us. We thank the Dominican sisters who daily offer us hope and solace as we face each day, as we pray:
May you be made holy when you become saddened by the reality around you.
May you be brought to the realization that God weeps and is troubled when you are troubled, concerned when you are concerned.
May you realize also that God is compassionate when you are compassionate and gentle when you are gentle with the sorrows of another.
May you be blessed in the knowledge that God’s presence is experienced through you.
May the God of Promise bless you. — Maxine Shonk, OP
©Dominican Sisters Grand Rapids, 2021
Text inspired by extracts from The Key to Faith, Adolf Adam, 1998.
Rose Mary Harbinson, RNDM