There seem to be two times each year that we think of the idea of “New Year’s Resolutions.” One is right at the end of December and into the beginning of January, the time for making New Year’s resolutions.
The other falls later in the month, already into the New Year, when, if you’re like me, you haven’t followed through on your New Year’s resolutions for several days.
As Catholics, we are fortunate that the Church calendar gifts us another opportunity to make resolutions later in the year after this cutoff point—namely, the start of Lent, when we can resolve to increase our devotion for a few weeks in some form or another.
While Lent is still further off, it might be worthwhile to start reflecting a bit on how we can have a fruitful Lent so that we will be prepared by the time we get to it.
For now, though, I think it would suffice to think of the idea of New Year’s resolutions and why we seem to fail at following through on them.
I was reading something the other day that said that the main reason we tend to lose track of them is that we set the goals too specifically—I resolve to do some exact thing this year, and then the moment I break my streak of days of doing it (or avoiding that which I have resolved to avoid), I figure that there isn’t any use to trying anymore, and just go back to my old habits of not doing what I had resolved to, or doing what I had resolved not to.
The article advises that instead of adopting specific resolutions, we should adopt instead a “theme” for the year. I propose that this is an excellent way for us to look at our lives as Christians, not only as each new calendar year begins, but if we desire to seek constant renewal and conversion.
Let us make our theme, then, that of holiness, of union with God, of deeper knowledge of Christ. If I say “This year, I will be holy,” then whether I am faced with the momentous decisions or the little nagging habits that I barely think about, I will pause and consider what I am doing. I will stop and ask, “Does this really get me closer to God? Does this really serve the goal of holiness?”
In the midst of a time of such intense turmoil and confusion in the world, this is the question we need to be asking ourselves. As St. Teresa of Avila says so beautifully:
“Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things pass away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.”
No matter what times we find ourselves in, God alone gives us peace. By increasing our awareness of God always by striving for a year of holiness, then no matter what befalls us, we will have His peace.