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New Year Resolutions

This is the time of New Year’s Resolutions kept, broken, or forgotten. Here are two helpful and substantive approaches to truly living better in Christ in 2018, as originally printed in our bulletin in 2016.

 

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Pope Francis Resolutions

Pope Francis’ Suggested New Year’s Resolutions

VATICAN CITY (CNS/Paul Haring) - When Pope Francis met before Christmas with Vatican employees, mostly lay people with families, he asked them to do 10 things. The list sounded remarkably like suggestions for New Year’s resolutions:

- Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, this is the backbone of everything we do and are.

- Take care of your family, giving them not just money, but most of all your time, attention and love.

- Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy. Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity and worldly decadence.

- Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.

- Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.

- Be careful of envy, lust, hatred and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.

- Watch out for anger that leads to vengeance; laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; pointing the finger at others that leads to pride; and complaining continually, that leads to desperation.

- Care for brothers and sisters who are weaker, the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.

Chesterton Quote

8 Key Questions for Making a New Year’s Resolution that Lasts

(Jeff Cavins: theintegratedcatholiclife.org)

We are coming to that time when we’ll make that big New Year’s resolution. Often times we don’t think through the price or the consequences of resolutions said in haste. The result is that we usually are disappointed with ourselves and feel further behind than we had prior to starting out.

There’s nothing wrong with making resolutions on January 1st as many times the turn of the New Year offers us a fresh opportunity to make changes. In this brief article I hope to provide you with some helpful tips on making holy, productive and life-changing resolutions that are healthy for you and those around you and that keep eternity in mind.

One big mistakes we make when making New Year’s resolutions is that we cut away the branches, when the root is really the problem. For example, the person who makes a New Year’s resolution to lose 25 pounds oftentimes is missing the real problem of gluttony. Rather than making the resolution to lose 25 pounds, a better resolution may be to pray before every meal and ask God for the strength to eat moderately and to see our eating as a way of giving God thanks.

A great exercise to go through prior to making resolutions is to take the time to assess your weaknesses and strengths. Many times we learn about our weaknesses by reviewing our confession record or reflecting on the spiritual direction we have received in the prior year. What are the areas that you are really struggling in? What vices seem to keep you captive and hinder you from living that life in Christ that you really desire? There are many good resources you can find, in book form and on the web, to help you combat vice with the corresponding virtue.

Another thing that’s good to keep in mind is that grace builds upon nature. When it comes to making New Year’s resolutions, we all have a tendency to focus on nature, that is, the physical hurdles and goals before us. But keep in mind that our “physical” lives are not separate from our “spiritual” lives, in fact they are one. To attempt to do something about our physical reality without addressing the spiritual dimension is only addressing half the equation.

In the end, we must admit that life can be a struggle and that the person we want to be does not come without a price. That desire to change and become more like Christ was put in your heart by God. I truly believe that the desire to make a New Year’s resolution is in truth, the desire to become more like Christ. Christ is wooing us, drawing us to be conformed to His image. The decision we make on January 1st can become a prayer to God that comes from the depths of our heart in response to His desire to change us. Without grace, which is the life of the Trinity, change is even more difficult, so start by turning your heart and mind to God to determine what changes are necessary.

Ask yourself the following eight questions that can act as a guide in making a good New Year’s resolution.

  1. Will this resolution draw me toward Christ or away from Him? Our goals can become self-centered and draw us away from Christ and onto our own agenda. Keep a holy card or crucifix with you when making a New Year’s resolution.

 

  1. Will this resolution enhance my vocation in life? In other words, will it help me as a parent, spouse, single person, priest, or religious? Starting with your vocation is a great place to determine future action. For example, if you are a father some of your decisions are already made. Becoming a better father is something that you know God wants you to do, even more than fitting into that pair of pants in your closet.

 

  1. Does this resolution have eternal impact on my life and those around me? Decisions we make today have eternal impact, so it is important to budget your time and resources accordingly.

 

  1. Have I prayed about it and asked God to lead me in my decisions? James 4:15 says that our future decisions should keep in mind the phrase, “if it is the Lord’s will.” We must qualify our plans with this phrase as sometimes it may be the will of the Lord for us to accomplish a certain thing, but we may be off when it comes to the timing.

 

  1. Will this resolution take time and resources away from those around me who really A Resolutiondepend upon me? We only have so many hours in a day and so many dollars in the bank, so it becomes very important to ask ourselves if the main things in our lives are being taken care of do we neglect them. If you have a family, it’s a good idea to consult your spouse if you are about to allocate funds or time for your special project.

 

  1. Am I prepared to accompany my resolution with prayer and fortitude? The prophet Zechariah said, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” Simply making the resolution will not bring about the desired results, rather, fortitude and a constant reliance upon the spirit of God brings about the victory in our lives. Ask yourself if you are prepared to soak this change in your life with daily prayer.

 

  1. Am I prepared to sacrifice and offer up that which is uncomfortable in order to attain my resolution? Whether it be in sports or in the spiritual life, becoming good at something does not come without practice and sacrifice. As “location” is the key to real estate, so practice is the key to the virtuous life. Change comes by habitually practicing the good.

 

  1. Does my resolution further my walk with Christ and glorify the Lord or does vanity compel you? It’s a wonderful thing to be physically fit, but if being fit is for the purpose of getting noticed, then your heart is in the wrong place. Become fit so that you can be a more effective witness for Christ. Remember all those times you said, “I’m too tired to do _____ (fill in the blank)?”

My prayer for you this year is that your New Year’s resolution will not be simply wishful thinking, but will be Christ-centered desires, followed by action and the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

 

Heart, Soul and Mind

Monsignor Royal's weekly column as featured in our bulletin.


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