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HOLY HOMEWORK
Will 2017 Be a New Year of “Happening” or “App-ening?”
Holy Homework
Father Bob Pagliari

Last week I was shivering on the sidewalk at Second Avenue and 55th Street in Manhattan wondering when the next city bus would arrive. Suddenly it occurred to me to check the transit app on my phone, which promptly informed me that I had 11 minutes to wait. This was plenty of time to duck into a deli and devour a warm Danish and hot cup of coffee. But herein lies the danger of an “app-ening” rather than a “happening” lifestyle. Easy access to electronic conveniences can lead to a more sedentary and a more isolated existence. For example, I certainly would have burned more calories standing outside at the metro stop than I did eating at the counter. And now that we're equipped with apps like audio maps we rarely ask another human for directions. The interpersonal happenings of past years are rapidly giving way to the solitary “app-enings”of the years ahead.

Will this impact our New Year's resolutions for 2017? We all know the standard list because, as the national pollsters have reported, these promises have been fairly consistent for some time:

  • Lose weight
  • Get organized
  • Shop less and save money
  • Spend more time with family
  • Eat healthy and exercise
  • Learn something new or take up a hobby
  • Fall in love
  • Help others
  • Enjoy life
  • Stop smoking

While 45 percent of Americans actually make New Year's resolutions only 8 percent achieve their goals. Apparently, youth has some advantage here since 39 percent of those in their 20s persevere compared with only 14 percent of the folks over 50.

Although the major types of resolutions we make seem to vary dramatically, from education to health to finances to relationships, the number of people who select from among these categories is pretty evenly distributed. The question we could ask ourselves is whether Catholics are significantly different from others when it comes to making resolutions each year and if we're not, should we be? One advantage we have is the fact we're used to making resolutions since we resolve to avoid sin every time we go to confession.

The danger for all of us, regardless of our religious profession, is kidding ourselves into thinking that as long as we “intend” to keep our New Year's resolutions, it doesn't matter whether we actually do or not. “The road to hell,” as the famous adage claims, “is paved with good intentions.” When it comes to changing our ways, it's our actions, not just our words, which make a difference. Put another way, we need to make things happen.

Each year we see the addition of more electronic apps. While these make life easier they can also make life less interactive with other human beings. Online learning has become a financial boon for universities and a zero commute for students. Electronic purchasing continues to outpace the long checkout lines at real cash registers. However, while texts and tweets and Skype and FaceTime can bridge miles of separation, they are never as rich as when a real, face-to-face encounter happens between people. Will 2017 be a year when we settle for “app-ening” or resolve to be more “happening” with our resolutions?

For Holy Homework:

Can we name one physically “happening” New Year's resolution that would be an especially good fit for Catholics? Are we willing to commit ourselves to such a pledge for 12 months?

Comments can be sent to: FatherBobPagliari@Yahoo.com

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