On the last day of 2015, there was a certain symmetry in the Mass readings: the first reading (1 John 2:18-21) began, “Children, these are the last days”. The Gospel began, “In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God…” (John 1:1-18). As one year ends and a new one begins, I’ve been looking back at 2015 and making plans for 2016 (including making new year resolutions and my 2016 reading list!). After reading these readings, I pondered my own spiritual journey. In these last days, how is my spiritual life? How am I drawing closer to God? Am I growing in faith and sharing the Good News?
2015 has been a year of many blessings and graces. Here are a few spiritual highlights:
World Meeting of Families
In September, my husband, my 18 month daughter and I made the pilgrimage to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. Part of me thought we were crazy, travelling from Ireland with a little one for this huge congress. When we arrived, I was bowled over by families who had also made the voyage; big families, young families, people from Africa, Poland, Vietnam… we even met Americans who had travelled further than us!
The excellent keynote talks, the stimulating break-out sessions and the Holy Spirit inspired encounters we had in between gave me so much hope and encouragement to be a witness to the Catholic faith through my family life.
Pope Francis’ visit to the US
The World Meeting of Families ended with the Festival of Families and a closing Mass, led by Pope Francis. Gathered with hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world, praying in different languages, led by Christ’s vicar on Earth, Pope Francis, I am struck by the scale and universality of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
Oh, and the most amazing news was announced at the end of Mass. Did you hear where the next World Meeting of Families will be? IRELAND!!!!
It is not always easy to find a Catholic community, or even Catholic friends.This year, I discovered the Blessed Is She Community, aka the #BISsisterhood, and quickly made their daily devotions part of daily prayer time. Written by Catholic women from all walks of life, the devotions give me an insight into the daily Mass readings where I sometimes struggle, and help me see how the Gospel is applicable in my life, today.
From the daily devotional appearing in my inbox, I have followed the #BISsisterhood on Instagram and Twitter, joined the BIS Europe Facebook group, become a regular reader of the blog. Through BIS, I have also discovered a host of Catholic podcasts including Jenna’s Building Bridges podcast, The Visitation Project and Fountains of Carrots, which inject my car journeys, runs and piles of laundry with interesting Catholic chat.
Best of all, the online community has spilled offline- through the community, I made a new friend who lives not too far away. Hi AnneMarie! Hopefully there will be a the first Blessed Brunch in Ireland in 2016!
Joining a women’s prayer group
Talking about local community, I was over-joyed to discover a women’s prayer group in my area. It is the first time I have ever been part of a women’s prayer group and there is something really special about it. In any other situation, it could be super-intimidating to walk into a stranger’s house on a dark winter’s evening, and into a packed room of twenty women that you’ve never met. But it wasn’t. In fact, it felt like I was walking into a room of good friends, my sisters-in-Christ. The women are from all walks and stages of life but have one thing in common- their love the Lord.
What were your spiritual highlights of 2015? What are you looking forward to in 2016? I would love to hear your comments 🙂