Most of us make and break the same New Year’s Resolutions each year: eat less, exercise more, spend less, get out of debt. . . and on and on. My resolutions, while well-intentioned, often fall away by the end of January.
This year, I’ve decided to do things differently. Instead of putting all the emphasis on my waistline and bank account, I’m attempting resolutions of a more encompassing nature. In the nursing profession, we use the term “holistic” to refer to caring for our patient as a whole person – emotional, spiritual and physical well-being – not just focusing on their broken hip or heart attack or diabetes. I would like to apply the same approach to my New Year’s Resolutions for 2013 and in so doing, care for the needs of my soul as well as my body.
I believe it’s very good to make resolutions, New Year’s or otherwise, in order to better ourselves. Striving to improve all areas of our lives is the result of not accepting complacency and stagnation. It is not okay to look in the mirror and say: there’s nothing more that I can do; nothing more that I can be. The “love of Christ urges us on” (2 Cor. 14); resolutions help us on the journey. They help us to look at ourselves honestly and acknowledge where there is room for much needed improvement and they establish goals to achieve them. However, the goals need to be doable, not lofty or full or pride and ought to aim at making us better magnifiers of the Lord.
Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman’s September 27, 1856 homily, A Short Road To Perfection, is what I’m using as my guide. Perfection, according to the Cardinal is “that which has no flaw in it, that which is complete, that which is consistent, that which is sound…..He then is perfect who does the work of the day perfectly, and we need not go beyond this to seek for perfection. You need not go out of the round (course) of the [average] day.” Cardinal Newman explains that the road to perfection is “short, not because easy, but because pertinent and intelligible.”
Here is how to achieve perfection, according to Bl. Cardinal Newman:
” Do not lie in bed beyond the due time of rising; give your first thoughts to God; make a good visit to the Blessed Sacrament; say the Angelus devoutly; eat and drink to God’s glory; say the Rosary well; be recollected; keep out bad thoughts; make your evening meditation well; examine yourself daily; go to bed in good time, and you are already perfect.”
Following his advice will be challenging but the alternative, mediocrity, is not an option. Our souls yearn for deeper fulfillment and a more vibrant life in Christ and that is the best reason of all to make and keep these resolutions. So, I’m giving it my best shot, fueled of course by graces from Heaven and the intercession of the Blessed Cardinal himself.
May the New Year be filled with the grace and peace of the Blessed Trinity.