A lot of thoughts go through my mind at the turn of the year. I think of the blessings I've experienced during the past year and how generous and kind God is to all of us. This year, I am particularly grateful to God for sending me to St. Mary's parish in Glens Falls to minister.

However, I can't help but also think about the losses experienced during the past year. I think of the many funerals celebrated in our church and so many good parishioners who have gone to the Lord. I think of friends I have lost this year. I think about the Mechanicville and Stillwater parish I left behind in August; I miss the people there.

Jan. 1 is always a time of great gratitude and joy for me, but it is also a time of appropriate goodbyes.

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are an occasion for everyone to make a spiritual survey of the past and plan for the future. Take some time this week to think peacefully about your blessings and thank God for them. Think about your losses, too, and ask God to help you bear the pain that comes from such losses.

Also, ask God to help you examine honestly the quality and depth of your faith. We are supposed to be growing in our faith every year. How are we doing? How have you done this year in nurturing and fortifying your relationship with Christ in the midst of a culture that belittles such a relationship?

Do we have greater confidence and trust in God this day as opposed to last year? Do we fear the future less and less? Have we grown in hope of great things to come? Are we more filled with joy this January about the fact that we have been saved, forgiven and living in the light as children of God?

These are good things to think about as "Auld Lang Syne" is sung.

Now is the time to plan for 2018 and to petition the Lord that the coming year be one of blessing. We should also ask God for grace and strength during the months ahead that may bring challenging and harsh realities into our lives.

We are the true children of fortune, we "little people" of the world. We are heaven's children and we know that real joy comes from what is inside of us: our character, our values, our good choices. We know that happiness does not come from what we accumulate, our status or infatuation with ourselves.

This is the source of real treasure: Jesus lives within us! In spite of the fact that we still live in a world of random suffering and irrational pain, He reigns in our hearts. Nothing can overcome Him-in-us. We should pray, every New Year's Day and throughout January, that we will be valiant heroes, with Christ at our sides, no matter what may come, no matter what the challenge.

This can happen -- and happens every day -- with God's grace, which fills in the valleys and potholes of life, enabling even the most weakened among us to fly like eagles.

What will the new year bring? We don't know right now. Yet, we are not confronted by a blind, spiteful destiny. No, we Catholics keep an optimistic outlook, for our lot is in the hands of God.

A good Father is watching providentially over all of us. He is guiding us as the apple of His eye. As a hen looks out for her chicks, so does He conceal and preserve us under the shadow of His wings. He delivered his only begotten Son, His most beloved gift, unto death for us. Is that not sufficient evidence that He will grant us ultimate security and unfailing fatherly love, no matter what may come?

A good prayer this weekend might be: "Into your hands, o Lord, I commend all that happens to me and my family in the coming year. Work still further in me your grace, and never let me be separated from you. All else is secondary. Visit me in times of trial, suffering, temptation and confusion. Your will be done. Give me the grace of complete trust in you and resignation when I can do little. Help me to stay in your love and find that peace which the world cannot understand -- a peace that is blinds even the darkest of hours, the most wrenching of times."


(Father Morrette is pastor of St. Mary's parish in Glens Falls.)