Making a New Year’s Resolution to Kick Off the New Liturgical Year
Written by Ricky Jones
Every time a new year begins we make resolutions that we know we can’t keep. Whether it’s to lose weight, save money, or spend more time with the kids, we know it’s important, but for some reason we fail. We set ourselves up for failure. Well as the liturgical year comes to an end this week, let us make resolutions that will help us to deepen our relationship with God, and let’s keep them.
Why do you fail to follow through with your new year’s resolutions? Perhaps it’s because you don’t take practical steps to achieve the goals that you are setting for yourself. Maybe it’s because you’ve set goals that you know deep down are unattainable. Or you might just be too lazy to step outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. I’ve put together a list of ideas that will help you to make a new year’s resolution that you can keep.
Five Steps to Making a Solid Resolution
1. Analyze Your Relationship
First off, you’ve got to step back and take an honest look at your relationship with God. The best way I have found to do this is to rate your relationship from 1 to 10—1 being distant and 10 being intimate. Most people will score themselves somewhere in the middle, which is not so bad and leaves room for improvement. But do you remember what Jesus’ #1 commandment was?
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
~ Matthew 22:37
Rekindle the romance! God hasn’t forgotten about you. If anything you’ve probably put Him on the back burner to give priority to something else in your life, undoubtedly fashioning for yourself false gods in the place of your eternal Father. Or maybe you think you’re as close as humanely possible to the living God, in which case you’ve completely missed the point.
2. Establish a Goal
Obviously, your relationship with God will always have room to grow and deepen, but the idea is that you realize that fact. Face it, your goal as a Christian is—and always should be—sainthood. You were made for heaven! The only people allowed in heaven are saints and angels and sorry, but you can’t be an angel. Remember that you don’t want to be a saint, just to be a saint, but because sainthood is complete union with God, which is what this is all about.
So set your sights high! There are plenty of inspiring figures in the history of the Church that you can look up to on your journey. That’s what’s great about being Catholic. You have an unimaginably large family, not just on earth, but in heaven (Heb 12:1). Their examples of holiness can serve as inspiration and motivation, but they can also pray for you. The prayers of the saints are powerful and they live to intercede for you.
3. Take Practical Steps
Now that you know what you’re shooting for you can work towards it. It’s called conversion and it should be seen as a gradual, continual process of transformation of which God holds control (Jer 18:6). Your job is to make yourself available—to open your heart and your mind to Him—so that He can fill you with the gifts of His love, mercy, and peace.
Then you can come up with a few concrete ways to climb the mountain of holiness. You can examine your conscience and evaluate yourself to see what areas you need to work on. Going through and reflecting on the Ten Commandments (Ex 20; Dt 5) and the Beatitudes (Mt 5) will help you to pick out your shortcomings, not so that you can feel guilty, but so that you can do something about it. The Sacrament of Reconciliation—commonly referred to as confession—is the perfect avenue for this growth and for that reason Jesus established it (Mt 16:19; Jn 20:21-23). So take advantage.
4. Ask for Help
Jesus told us to ask for anything in His name and it would be granted (Jn 14:13-14). He is our mediator (1 Tim 2:5). You can’t do it on your own. You might think you have the power to, but that power comes from Him. And it’s not like He is going to run out of it, so keep asking for more of His grace—the gift of whatever it is that you need to keep going.
If your tank is empty, you need to fill ‘er up. Perhaps a weekend retreat is the answer (Mk 6:31). Maybe a holy hour—an hour or longer spent in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament—will give you that recharge that you’re in need of (Lk 6:12). Attending Mass daily, for those who are able, is also a great way to keep the tank topped off (Mt 6:11). But you’ve got to be an active participant, not just a warm body in the pew.
5. Reevalute Your Resolution
As you are on your journey you will go over bumps, face obstacles, and maybe even hit a wall, but you can’t give up. Don’t accept failure (1 Cor 10:13). You should constantly be reevaluating your relationship with God and changing or adding to your list of practical things you’ve put in place to improve it. Don’t think that if you forgot your daily prayer that you are automatically excluded from sainthood. You are a work in progress, accept that, get over it, and move on. You’ve got lots of work to do.
“Iron is sharpened by iron; one person sharpens another.”
~ Proverbs 27:17
If you have trouble staying on track, perhaps you can find a partner or better yet a group of people who are willing to walk the same journey with you. Community is important, in fact it’s essential to Christianity. Your brothers and sisters will help hold you accountable, share their struggles, and motivate you to keep going. Your conversion is individual. Your relationship with God is personal. But the closer you get to God, the closer you come to your neighbor.
What is Your Resolution?
So what’s it gonna be? This year is not just another year. It is an opportunity, a challenge for you to rekindle that romance with God or fall in love with Him for the first time if you’ve never known His love. How will you do it? That’s up to you. But we’d be happy to hear your ideas.
This article was originally published at EvangelizeLA.com.