Spiritual Goal of the Year

   Each year I pick one spiritual goal to pray for and work on.  I begin each new Advent, the beginning of the liturgical year, with this new focus.
   Last year, my goal was joy.  I am far from finished in my cultivation of this beautiful gift from God.  But it was so funny–this week I was passing out the final exam for my students.  One of them was staring at me, sort of quizzically. I asked him what was wrong.  He replied, “Oh nothing.  You’re just so. . . so. . . joyful!”  I laughed and thought, “What a gift from the Holy Spirit, here as my year has just finished, to have confirmation of some progress on that front!”
     This year, my goal is faith.  Strange–the year of faith declared by Pope Benedict a few years ago came and went, and I did not plumb the depths of faith as I felt I should.  I did try–but somehow came up short.
    But during my year of joy, I realized: “Joy comes from FAITH!”  It definitely does not come from circumstances, which are often so hard.  It does not come from our natures, which are often driven by fight or flight instincts, keeping us from joy.  But FAITH: that is where joy comes from.
    So I resolved that this year, I should dedicate my spiritual life to the pursuit of faith.  Lord, grant me a huge increase in faith!