What are some of the Catholic ideals that we can incorporate into our New Year's Resolutions for 2018? What are some of the uniquely orthodox Catholic practices that will help bring us closer to Christ and to our neighbor? There are many. Here we will suggest three, but there are several others we can identify and adapt into virtuous resolutions for the coming year.
Perseverance-Keep Going Toward Virtue by Letting Go of Vice
Catholics strive to persevere. St. Paul assures us that a merited crown awaits us as long as we complete the race and do not give up before reaching the finish line (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Why then, of all the New Year's resolutions made in January, do only a fraction survive beyond the month of February? The easy answer is lack of perseverance. But the problem is more complex. The essence of a resolution is instilling a new habit into our lives. For example, if we are determined to lose some weight, we might make a resolution to take a daily walk. However, making a new, healthy habit is only half of the path to success. A brisk, daily stroll is a great habit to start but it will be difficult to sustain for 365 days if we don't change some of the counter forces that will inevitably arise to sabotage our intention to shed some pounds. In other words, besides creating good habits to help us move forward, we must also let go of bad habits that keep us falling backward. Go for a daily walk, yes. Keep buying sugary desserts, no. To persevere into a future of good habits, we must also let go of the bad habits we have accrued from the past. In terms of a Catholic New Year, we can resolve to persevere in virtues like fitness, faith and forgiveness, by letting go of vices like being overly indulgent, nurturing doubts and seeking revenge.
Life-Sacred; Always and Everywhere
Catholics prefer life over death. No matter what the law of the land may be, and no matter what the practice of a given culture may permit, Catholics do not condone execution. Our own Declaration of Independence insists that our government must protect these self-evident truths and unalienable rights which include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness because we have been endowed with them by the Creator. There are no personal or communal rights that supersede an individual's right to life. For Catholics this means that abortion is wrong and assisted suicide is wrong. A given society may try to trick itself into believing differently. But such a proclamation to promote a false sense of freedom becomes a thinly veiled desire for self-centeredness and nothing more. In terms of a Catholic New Year, we can resolve to learn more about elected officials and the platforms they endorse, particularly those which involve government funding that favors taking life rather than preserving life.
Avoiding Sin-The Elevator Not Taken
For Catholics, our relationship with Christ is paramount. One of the best New Year's resolutions we can pledge is to strengthen our bond with Him by availing ourselves of the sacraments more frequently and by avoiding people, places and things that lead us to sin. Not visiting certain websites and not relaxing in certain lounges are completely within our control if these are an occasion of sin for us. Unfortunately, decreased interaction with certain coworkers may not be as easy. Nevertheless, if working relationships become a source of iniquity, Catholics have a right and an obligation to avoid unnecessary contact with such colleagues. This is not a lack of charity. This is an exercise in wisdom and grace. Tactics like taking a different elevator, eating lunch in the cafeteria earlier or later than others, or even seeking a different place of employment may require swallowing our mortal pride. If the end result strengthens our relationship with Christ and saves our immortal soul, then such a resolution is worthwhile. In terms of a Catholic New Year, we can resolve to deepen our relationship with Christ by pursuing good and avoiding evil. This avoidance includes temptations in the workplace, even if this means distancing ourselves from certain co-workers who do not share our Catholic values!
For Holy Homework:
Let's take 15 minutes to examine our relationship with Christ in 2017 and identify three New Year's resolutions that will deepen that bond and strengthen our Catholic faith during 2018.
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