The arrival of September makes me reflect on new beginnings – perhaps a new school or university beckons, a new job or teacher or employer or boss. In some of our parishes it may be a new priest to welcome, while for the priests themselves there will be new faces to get to recognise, new parishioners to know, and a fresh community about whom they must learn and with whom they will exercise their service of the Gospel.
For our new students here at the Beda College in Rome, there is the challenge of a new country, no doubt a change of lifestyle, and the challenges of learning a new language and adapting to a new rhythm of community life. Despite our best efforts to normalise things and make people feel at home, the induction period for the 'nuovi' – or new students – is always a balancing act between the excitement of new challenges and the fear of the unknown!
Newness or change is something that some of us take in our stride, a natural part of what it is to grow and develop; for others, it is always testing and slightly unnerving – until the new becomes so much a part of every day that we get to the stage of looking back and saying, "Haven't we always done it like this?".
On the 14th of this month we keep the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross when the Liturgy invites us to recognise in the Cross of Christ the still and stable sign of the love of Jesus for his people. Amid the many changes and challenges of everyday life, this love remains static and trustworthy. I am reminded of the motto of the Carthusian Monks: Stat crux dum volvitur orbis. This translates – roughly – as "the Cross stands steady while the world is turning".
So if a new challenge faces you, a change from the way things have always been done, bringing a fresh perspective and direction in your life, remember also the words of Jesus which conclude the Gospel of Matthew from which our Sunday Gospel readings are taken this year: Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the ages.