The following is an article I wrote appearing in this week’s issue of The Catholic Herald on how to go about making some Year of Faith resolutions. Enjoy the preview — and make sure to pick up a copy in the next few days.
Most Americans are familiar with New Years resolutions; many embrace them with enthusiasm for the first two weeks of January each year. As winter trudges on, those resolutions lose some of their fervor. Almost all Catholics are familiar with the practice of fasting from things they enjoy each Lent; the good majority stay strong throughout those forty days.
Based on the success rates of keeping resolutions, it seems like the better and more serious a reason to make one in the first place, the more enthusiasm and effort is put forth in keeping it.
As this Year of Faith began in early October, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in his opening homily spoke of a “desertification” happening throughout the world. Many people have found themselves drifting away from the practice of the faith, putting stake in the world’s definition of happiness and no longer desiring the beautiful.
He has spoken. This is a serious problem for the world, pertinent for everyone from faithful Catholics to those who are far away from the Church. This problem is not going to remain an unsolved riddle. The Holy Father spoke of a solution you can be a part of during the upcoming 13 months.
In his homily at the Mass opening the Year of Faith, he told all Catholics that “in the desert people of faith are needed who, with their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive.”
If you are up for the challenge of being a person of faith in the dessert, you may be interested in the following four ideas of resolutions to take on during this Year of Faith, as inspired by the Holy Father’s and Fr. Eric Sternberg’s opening homilies on this momentous occasion.
Number One: Go to Mass and listen. As Fr. Sternberg told the students, if you show up and listen during Mass this year, there is no way that you are not going to get the point and deepen your faith. Priests around the Diocese and the world are going to be teaching from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Listen carefully; your life is about to be transformed.
Number Two: Pray. There is no better way to figure out how the Lord wants to use you in the desert this year other than by being in regular communication with him. Do not be surprised if deepening your prayer life leads you to Confession or taking seriously the following two resolutions.
Number Three: Do something big. (Caveat: Fr. Sternberg told the students at St. Paul’s not to drop out of school. That doesn’t make parents happy.) As for the rest, if the Lord has given you a call, now is the time to embrace it. Perhaps consider doing something big that will invite someone to come back to the Church; put witnessing to what you believe at the top of your list of ideas.
Number Four: Live with joy. As the Holy Father said this week, “We should live with joy in our hearts. We can be happy because Jesus’ goodness remains and is strong.”
For those of you who struggle with resolutions day to day, for the forty days of Lent or during each new year, do not fear. This Year of Faith is not the time for doubt or waiting around; it is a call for action. Let the Lord know about your resolutions and allow the Holy Spirit to give you the grace and energy needed to keep them.
– Lindsay, Coordinator of Youth & Young Adult Formation