In years past, I’d be spending these last days before the New Year reviewing the one gone by. I found it helpful to look back and ponder important events, joys, achievements, surprises, and sorrows and evaluate how I grew spiritually over the preceding twelve months. Then I’d choose one or two things I wanted to work on in the coming year.

This year, however, I find myself wondering if it’s even worth reviewing 2020. Do I really want to think again about the whole COVID debacle? Do I want to remember being in lockdown, separated from loved ones, and unable to attend holy Mass? Or fretting over lost work and income? Add to that the serious non-Covid hardships and crosses my family has undergone and it makes 2020 seem like a nightmare that’s best forgotten forever.

My inclination would be to put it all behind me and let it go. Deep inside I know that’s exactly the reason I must review 2020. There is far too much to be gleaned from such a difficult year (not to mention the fact that we’re entering 2021 dealing with the same debacle). Regardless of the cause of the turmoil, God has allowed it, and he’s allowed it for a purpose. His purpose will look different for you than for me – or for anybody else for that matter – but it’s an important purpose that has to be considered.

That being said, there are some good things that have come out of 2020, and that shouldn’t be forgotten.

I’ve heard countless times how people have drawn closer in 2020, treasuring current relationships and reigniting old ones. And that despite being physically separated from each other. Perhaps it’s because of the separation that we’ve come to realize just how much we need each other. I think we’ve gotten more innovative in our communication and used it to connect instead of getting ahead. An added bonus is that a host of events were live-streamed or recorded, giving those who might never be able an opportunity to attend.

I know too many people who have lost enthusiasm for the sacraments, using COVID as an easy excuse not to attend Mass even after bishops have lifted the dispensation, for example. But I know far more people who have awakened to the vitalness of their faith and the necessity of the sacraments. Prayer lives have become more ardent and Scripture has risen in importance. Amid the winter of COVID, a springtime of faith has sprung. It may be only a tiny sprout, but it’s there just beneath the surface.

With the onset of stay-at-home, work-at-home, and closings of businesses and schools, families have spent more time together, becoming reacquainted and doing things together that they never had time to do before. That’s not to ignore the skyrocketing statistics of child and domestic abuse, suicide, depression, and other mental health issues. Could it be that we’re being called to heroic levels of Christian charity by reaching out to those who suffer these consequences of isolation and poverty?

Finally, we’ve been forced to stop taking things for granted like basic necessities, socializing, ability to come and go as we please, freedom to worship, and our loved ones. The Church has always taught that we must be good stewards of the gifts God has given us. This past year has upped the anti on stewardship hundredfold!

In considering 2020 – and we must consider it – we need to ask ourselves how we’ve been affected by the crises, what God has been saying to us through them, and how we can use those experiences to become better persons in 2021. Examine the bad stuff and then lay it aside. Entrust it to God’s wisdom. Then take up the good stuff and entrust it to God’s grace and guidance. Surrender it all to our Lord Jesus Crucified and enlist the intercession and comfort of his holy Mother. Jesus will help you to be strong and Mary will help you be brave. It will be worth if to review 2020 as that will prepare you to face 2021.

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