As we flip the calendar to 2024, I must admit the thought of the coming 12 months fill me with a certain amount of dread. Entering into another election year, with all of the related political drama, can feel anxiety-inducing, to say the least.
Thankfully, as people of faith, we know that our hope is found not in political parties or their candidates but in Jesus Christ and his church. So, instead of dreading the first Tuesday in November and the inevitably contentious lead-up, here are five events Catholics can anticipate with joy this calendar year.
• The National Eucharistic Congress and related events
In the unlikely off-chance that you haven’t heard, the first National Eucharistic Congress in the United States in almost 50 years will be held in Indianapolis in July. The event will include nationally-recognized speakers, opportunities for worship and Eucharistic adoration, and plenty of time to deepen one’s understanding and love of the Eucharist. The organizing committee has taken several steps to make the event more affordable for families in recent months, including adding the option of purchasing day passes. Leading up to the national event will be four pilgrimages, starting from different points in the country. And parishes will continue planning and holding events as part of the National Eucharistic Revival’s parish year — events that Catholics should make every effort to participate in.
• Synod on Synodality, Part 2
In October, the second part of the two-part Synod on Synodality will take place in Rome. After round one this past October, we have more of a sense of what to expect this year. We also have a synthesis document that we can continue to digest. And we have more ideas of how we might incorporate synodality in our parish communities and in our lives in general. It’s always a good time to listen to and learn from one another, especially within the context of faith, but doing so in 2024 is particularly timely in the life of the church.
• Reopening of Notre Dame Cathedral in December
Five years ago this coming April, the world stopped in its tracks as flames devoured portions of the historic and beloved Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. It was an event that brought nations together in sorrow. On Dec. 8, 2024, the world once again will come together — but this time in joy for the cathedral’s scheduled reopening. “Never has anyone alive seen Notre Dame as we shall see it,” Father Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, rector-archpriest of the cathedral, told OSV News in a recent interview. It’s enough to make you want to book a flight to the City of Light to celebrate.
• 10 years since sainthood
On April 27, the church will mark 10 years since the canonization of Sts. John Paul II and John XXIII. This milestone offers us the chance to pause and reflect on these two monumental figures of the 20th century. “They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them,” Pope Francis said at the canonization Mass. “For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful — faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.” This year is the perfect time to grow in devotion to these two saints who made such an impact on the church.
• A new jubilee year
Finally, the start of the 2025 ordinary jubilee year, a time of great grace for the church, will begin on Dec. 24, 2024, with the opening of the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica. Pope Francis has asked that Catholics worldwide prepare for the jubilee year by studying the documents of the Second Vatican Council, especially its four constitutions. The pope has also asked that Catholics enter into a year of preparatory prayer in 2024. To that end, forthcoming from the Dicastery for Evangelization will be an “in-depth series” called “Notes on Prayer” that will promote “the centrality of prayer, personal and communal,” according to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, pro-prefect for the dicastery.
We might be facing a contentious election season this year, but we can never forget how much we have to look forward to. May your 2024 be filled with joy.
Gretchen R. Crowe is the editor-in-chief of OSV News.