New Year’s Eve 2021

We have come to the final day of the calendar year. This is a good time to look back, to do an examination of the past twelve months in our personal life.

Such an examination – in Ignatian language, an examen of consciousness – is usually carried out by individuals looking back at their day, to see it through the eyes of God. It can certainly be adapted for communities/families, or for a longer period of time. To do an examen of the year 2021 is not a bad idea.

Newspapers, magazine and TV shows tend to do that in various ways – the 100 best books, the top sports figures, the films to see before you die, rap artist of the year, notable deaths of the year, top weather stories, important transitions, and so on. How about our personal or family lives?

More importantly, how about a view through the eyes of God? I can look at the various recaps from media outlets or I can look back through my personal calendar. I find that it is far more fruitful to ask what God sees when God looks at the past year of my life. The hope is that we will grow from serious reflection on the past.

Not many of us keep diaries of the significant movements of the year, so let me offer a few questions for reflection.

What was your life like last December 31? We were dealing with COVID, as we still deal with it. But life has loosened up a bit. What freedoms are in your life now that were non-existent a year ago? What have you learned through this year? Did isolation teach you anything? How about working from home? How did you deal with the issues of the world around us?

How did you respond to the changing world around us? Is there a news story that stayed with you? Why? Was it about the impact on fellow human beings? On the planet? In Afghanistan? In unacknowledged areas of the world, either the north of Canada or the global south? Was there an event that stays with you – a webinar, a talk, a TV program, a documentary?

Have there been significant transitions in your life this year? Deaths, births, marriages, other major transitions? A new position/career? A new child or grandchild? What did the changes do to/for you? How did you deal with the changes and transitions?

The interior life deals with movements of consolation and desolation, movements outward, toward God or humanity; movements inward, isolating ourselves from others and cutting ourselves off from God. Where did you find consolation, a greater union with humanity and God? Where did you experience desolation, a move away from life?

What was the greatest blessing of the past year? What was the greatest curse, sign of hopelessness? How has your spiritual/interior life changed this year?

As you look back, what have you learned about yourself, about the world, about life? Is there advice you would offer to your younger self, your grandchild, your own children, your students?

Finally, let’s look toward the future. What is your main hope for 2022? Do you even have hope? What do you want to see when you glance back next New Year’s Eve?

This is just touching the tip of the iceberg in a look back at 2021. Let all the other questions be there.

Philip Shano, SJ has many years of rich and varied experience working with Ignatian spirituality: teaching, writing and using it in his ministry. He resides in the Jesuit community in Pickering, Ontario.

  • Vicky Chen
    Posted at 07:23h, 31 December Reply

    Thank you, Fr. Phil for your reminder of a year end examination of consciousness. Today our Gospel is John 1:1-18. Can’t ask for a better guide? With that, how do I look at our ups and downs this year? Will I ever comprehend the restlessness of this world that I am now more aware of because of our digital connections? No….. So, it is with gratitude, trust and hope that I re-read Isaiah 55: 8-11. May God be always with you, and your communities.

  • Dee Sproule
    Posted at 09:00h, 31 December Reply

    Thank you, Philip, for such a great list of questions with which to begin reflecting upon! As this year concludes, I wish you God’s continued blessings, and for your community!

  • Karen Arthurs
    Posted at 09:31h, 31 December Reply

    Thank you for this thoughtfilled reminder and prompting in the seriousness of this (covid) time, to see God in everything.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 10:05h, 31 December Reply

    Thank you very much Philip!

  • Lorraine Majcen
    Posted at 10:30h, 31 December Reply

    Firstly, Fr Philip I am most grateful to you for your many messages of faith, hope, and love that you have shared with us over this past year, 2021. I look forward to many more words of insight and encouragement from you in 2022.
    Thank you also for the wonderful reminders, good and not so good, for reflection on this past year, and looking out with optimism and hope to the year ahead.
    Thank you again. I appreciated what you had to say. A blessed, peaceful and fruitful New Year to you Fr Philip.

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