New Year’s Day brings the feast of Mary, Mother of God — and a world day of prayer for peace. They seem interlinked to me: to give birth to Christ is the greatest prayer for peace. It’s a call — to give birth to Christ every day in every circumstance — that all Christians are called to.

Not that I succeed very often. Or at least, I don’t often see my success if it is there. That’s where Mary speaks to me. Somehow she accepted that God doesn’t give us the syllabus for this class called LIFE 101. Sometimes I want that syllabus instead of the requirement that I simply show up and pay attention day after day. She understood that the course work was the day to day relationship with the teacher, not the study and scheduled tests that can be dealt with and then forgotten.

And so, as I decide whether to make resolutions that I will no doubt fail to keep this year, one thing comes to mind: Be Present. As a Catholic, I often find myself repeating the words of the Hail Mary:

Hail Mary, full of Grace
The Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women
And blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God
Pray for us sinners
Now and at the hour of our death

The first part is pure scripture, the second seeks prayerful support in the two times in our life that are certain: the present (NOW) and at the hour of death (which everyone will face). I will face Now. I will be Present in the moment, which is always. That’s a difficult challenge for someone like me that often wants to curl up in the back corner of a safe closet and let life pass on by. Today, I am reminded that someone is always praying for me Now — even if I’m curled up “safe.” Today, I am reminded that Now is truly all I have, for it will always be Now.

2009 – the Year of Now.