Begin with the end in mind. ~Stephen Covey

This is my favorite advice from the famous leadership giant. So simple and so true. If we are taking off to travel from Chicago and don’t know if we are going to LA or New York, it is very difficult to proceed. But if we know, at least that much, and go off course it is always easy to realign to get to our destination. Such a critical question! Where is our life heading?

Fr. Tony and I meet with families as they prepare for funerals. We usually begin asking, “Tell us about your mom, your dad, your spouse, your child.” Almost never do we hear how successful they were, how important they were in their work, how much they had achieved or amassed in wealth.

Going back to my notes from these meetings I noticed these were the most often mentioned responses: kind, hard worker, positive, loyal, honest, wise, made the best of any bad situation, humble, respectful, creative, fun, great sense of humor, no enemies, always happy to help someone. And three things that almost always come up. He/she loved their family! He/she was always there for us! And they speak of their loved one’s faith. Many times, it is of a deep faith, mentioning a special devotion to Mary, Jesus, a saint or the Holy Spirit.

Many of the people were successful in their career but it is more often mentioned how much the person loved the work they did. It seems it isn’t so much the amount of money someone made but were they generous with what they had? Not so much about the talents they had but how they used them to help others. Not just having faith but that they shared their faith, making others more hopeful and feeling loved. Not so much their achievements but the value they put on relationships. One of our parishioners had a saying, “Love makes sacrifice a pleasure.” This was especially beautiful, when his daughter remembered he said it while doing the most unglamorous jobs like cleaning out the latrine of their camper.

So as this year begins, it is an opportunity to consider where we are heading in life. If we know what is important and valuable, might it be easier to live a good life that is a lasting gift to those we love?

Blessings to you in this new year! May it be a year that we are heading toward what matters most, so our life will be a life that matters.