I ran across an article that had a survey on what people set as new year resolutions. Only two hit over 50%, physical fitness and a better relationship with God. Better time management and spending more time with family came in over 40%, with all other things falling under 20% such as getting finances in order, spending more time with friends, and even repairing broken relationships. I think this survey is quite accurate with our times, so I would like to put a bit of a Catholic spin to it so that we can set some goals to achieve for the new year. Generally speaking, since the academic year starts in August, I set up priorities for the new academic year over the summer and then do a re-evaluation after the new year. Since the new year is centered on 2016 years since the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, then these new year resolutions should be centered around our eternal salvation. As such here are a top 8 areas to consider:
(1) Health –We owe it to others and to our Lord to live healthy lives. Preventative measures to illness is a smart and heathy thing. Even walking 30 minutes 3 times a week is good for the cardiovascular system, but daily exercise can also lift up the mind, emotion, and soul in significant ways.
(2) Time with God – Everyone knows my mantra on this one; Is there really any excuse not to spend an hour a day with our Lord? The simple and definitive answer is no. But we can find hundreds of excuses why we are too busy to pray. I try to pray about two hours a day. I simply need that time with God. I spend part of this time in silence, praying two daily rosaries, reflecting and meditating on Sacred Scripture, praying the official prayers of the Church called the Divine Office or Liturgy of the hours (you can get the phone app iBreviary or Laudate for free), and praying for my family and our community. For me the time goes by really fast. If you really want to live life to the full, make time each day to pray.
(3) Time management – Yes, we all need time for recreation in our day, even if it’s only for 20 or 30 minutes. These diversions can help break up the monotony or even the heavy loads of our daily tasks and keep us busy doing the work of God. Recreation is, in fact, part of the work of God as they say often, “stop and smell the roses.” But all play and no work is sloth and this is a sin as well. St. Paul states, “In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.” 2 Thes 3:10. Look at the last few months and see what changes you need to make with your time management. A good friend knows your bad habits in this regard and they likely remind you of it all the time. Maybe it’s time to listen to some sound advice.
(4) Family and Friends – Life would be quite lonely if we were not involved with family, friends, and our Christian community. First we lose meaning in our life and then we would lose zeal for being a part of something special that God has given us. We have been created to be one family on earth as it is in heaven, but that takes a lot of effort on our part. Have I taken the initiative to keep up with my family and friends? How much responsibility am I making to keep my family and friends Christ centered? If someone is not Catholic, do I share my rich Catholic faith? Do I know my faith well enough? If someone is not Christian, do I share with them the benefits now and for eternal life? Don’t over stretch yourself. Relationships take time, prayer, a building up of trust and unity in truth and love, and of holding one another accountable.
(5) Finances – Do I spend too much on material things to give me comfort? Every year I can point out numerous things that I need to cut back on. The saints point us to self-denial in this world, taking on sacrifices for the glory of God and the building of the Kingdom of God. Comfort or bliss will come in the next world. Where can I cut back on things? Is there an item or two that if purchased may help me be more efficient? Our little parish has sacrificed a tremendous amount in its short 3 ½ years. We could not have raised nearly $1.5 million dollars while still keeping our operating expenses low and all paid if everyone within our community was not sacrificing a great deal for a great future tomorrow and for the greater glory of God. Students, if you work and make a $100 a week or if you have an allowance of $50 a week can you commit to giving $5 a week in the collection basket? The adage, “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” does have validity in the building up of our parish as well. God loves a generous giver, but if your finances are never in order then you may find yourself more of a complainer than a giver.
(6) Repairing a relationship – Make a commitment to make amends with a family member or an old friend. It takes two to fully repair a relationship. Clearing the air and making a mutual commitment to labor towards reconciliation is an ideal centered on prayer for each other daily. But many times what God asks of you is not dependent on them. For your part, God simply asks you to seek reparation, to forgive or ask for forgiveness. This will require sustained and authentic humility, daily prayer, and possibly even a daily sacrifice. Yet, you will be surprised by how God’s grace will abound. If someone has hurt /abused us it may be the case that a relationship should not be pursued but rather the hard process of letting go of the resentment or hurt. Turn to Jesus Christ daily to learn the way of forgiveness. Remember, this is the year of mercy, named as such by pope Francis. Frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation once a month to help you on this journey of healing and hope.
(7) Be a servant – Our Christianity should easily be observable by others. Jesus gives many examples and parables about how we are called to serve others. Taking the time once a week to help someone else who is struggling with life is a great way of being Christ to them. It is not simply about doing something for them. Rather, it is more about taking the time to be with someone during a time of trial for them, showing them that you authentically care about them and their situation. This builds up the body of Christ better than all else, as one member is ever willing and ready to enter into another person’s trail or pain. Jesus says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
(8) The Holy Eucharist – The document, Lumen Gentium No. 11, tells us the Holy Eucharist is “the source and summit of Christian life”. Preparing with prayer before Mass and being full, active, and consciously participating at Mass will enhance our experience of the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the hearing of his Word, the shedding of his blood for our salvation, and the given of his body for our daily bread, the gift of Holy Eucharist, and the worship of God. Spend time after communion to praise our Lord for choosing to come to you. Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.” Rev 3:20. Also, everybody should commit to doing a Holy Hour once a week, going to spend time before the Lord in the tabernacle or in Eucharistic Adoration in our Catholic Chapels.
Written by Spiritual Guide,
Father Kyle Walterscheid.