Can a year take away your health, your dreams, your strength, your will to live?
Can a year scandalize and demoralize, opening your eyes and breaking your heart?
Can a year be a participatory offering for the conversion of sinners, that ultimately leads you closer to God?
Can it remake you into a person more compassionate, discerning, humble, and generous?
If yes, then I’d say it was a good year

You don’t need to win a million dollars
You don’t need to be searching restlessly in foreign lands
You don’t need to numb yourself into forgetfulness
If you’re lonely without God, then nothing else is gonna satisfy…
Your deepest longing is for love, and He loved us first and best of all

If you’re lost, or know someone who is,
It’s not too late to end the year on your knees
How we posture ourselves is so important
For how God graces us in the here and now, and for tomorrow

Religion’s very private for me
I’d be content to keep what’s sacred
Separate from the profane
But truth is universal and ought to be defended
Like the baby Jesus, being targeted by Herod’s men
By attacking the Truth, it affects everyone around
Bringing injustice, pain, and death
So we have to fight, even if we’re tired
We have to show, by words and deeds,
Who is God in our lives
The God of the living, Who is Love,
Who was, is, and always will be

When you’re so stressed that you can’t think anymore
When several fires start burning before you can even put the first one out
When the only possible solution is a miracle beyond your limited human means

When people misunderstand or accuse you, even talking behind your back
When you’re being bullied and shamed into thinking that you’re completely worthless
When the secular world is trying to make you something that you don’t want to be

When your faith becomes a point of disagreement, a sword of division
When it feels like no one cares about their immortal souls, only for this passing life
When people act like swine, incapable of recognizing holy things, the pearls of the Spirit

When you’re about to go to bed and don’t know if you’ll wake up in the morning
When you’re about to eat and worry about those who have nothing to fill their stomaches
When, by grace, you remember that someone has asked you to pray for them

When you see your president making a fool of himself
When you hear about another scandal in the Church
When God touches your heart unexpectedly and you know that He’s with you despite everything

When someone you love is dying or has died
When your children, relatives, parents, or siblings seem so far from Jesus
When, like Mary, your heart is pierced, and yet, you would magnify the Lord with all your soul

It shocked me to my core…
I’d never met anyone who wanted to rape me
While making it seem as if they’d be doing me a favor

I didn’t know if humanity was worth saving anymore
If one person could be so like Judas…
Didn’t Jesus say it was better if he had never been born?

This is as close as it’s going to get for me
That hatred of sin, of injustice,
Bordering on hatred for another human being

When someone truly becomes your enemy
By allying themselves with the adversary,
Satan, the father of lies,
Remember, they are still that lost sheep
Whom Jesus wants to save, by dying out of love

I must believe in conversion
Because I know my own weakness and sin
I must believe in second chances
For who am I to limit His ocean of mercy?

If this soul is saved, then I will rejoice with all of heaven
But Lord, don’t let me rest in forgetful, complacent despair
Let me fight with fervent prayer, word, and deed

You know my choice is love
For love of You, in imitation of You,
Embrace the cross and follow You
“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”

Conversions are happening every day
I must have hope
Rather than be disillusioned or disappointed
By those who’d use their free will so foolishly

I also need to be thankful
For those who have the will
To be fishers of men, martyrs for the faith,
Beacons of light amidst the darkness

Please let me be among the latter, Lord
For, as a sinner, I need Your mercy
Remind me that despite my sorrowful, prodigal past,
In You, we each have a hopeful, loving, beautiful future

The lonely soul can get lost
Like in depths of unchartered forest at night
Unable to reach civilization on one’s own
Maybe there’s the false belief that you’re unlovable
That you’re ugly or beyond repair
Let God enter into that maze you’ve wandered into
Allow Him to bring you home, where you belong
And where you have every reason to live again

Can we see it as a blessing
To know what chronic pain feels like?
A pain that runs deep into your bones
And a weakness where your body
Will no longer do what you want it to do?

It sparks the imagination, the empathetic heart…

Were Your nerves completely unhinged, Lord
After Your scourging by Roman soldiers?
Or even after sweating Blood in the Garden?
You were whipped, You were bruised,
You were pricked with thorns, You were psychologically abused

How could anyone treat the Crucifix with disrespect
If they truly knew how much love You poured out?
Not once did You retaliate, nor angels did You call down in retribution
When the women cried for You, You sorrowed more for their and their children’s sake
Struggling to breathe on the Cross, You prayed: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”

What great mercy, and what great thirsting for our love
Even today, with every sacrilegious Communion,
You allow Yourself to be a sacrifice—the Friend Who never gives up
Betrayal after betrayal, ingratitude after ingratitude
I’m saddened, Lord, for You to be so misunderstood

From a baby enclosed in Your mother’s womb
To Your burial in the tomb
You placed Your entire life on the line for us
And yet, how many today
Don’t even know You?

If suffering makes me a reflection, then Your reflection I can hope to be…