Ah yes, it's that time of year again. The time for New Year's Resolutions. "I'll actually GO to the gym this year" (well, maybe not this year). "I'll eat better this year". "I want to be kinder." Sound familiar? These Resolutions saturate our culture every time January comes around, but they're done pretty poorly for the most part. Allow me to explain.
To have a productive discussion about this, we need to nail down what a resolution actually is. Like many words in English, it's a homonym, which means there are multiple words with different meanings that use the same spelling (i.e. "you can only say you've read things that you've taken the time to read, the dog barks at the tree's bark, it's hard to play pool in the pool, etc.).
The word "Resolution" can mean the solution or end of something. For my fellow gamers and tecchies, it can refer to the quality of an image or monitor. Neither of these are what we're going for. The resolution definition we're referring to is "a firm decision to do or not to do something."
A resolution is not a hope. A resolution is not a want. A resolution is not a "maybe, if I get around to it." Nope, nope, nope! A resolution, a TRUE resolution, is a promise to yourself. It is a declaration of intent and a challenge of willpower. In our world today, New Year's Resolutions are a bit of a joke. Let's change that.
You may have heard that we're called to be "in the world, not of the world." This is a perfect opportunity to put that to the test. We live in a world that regurgitates the idea of New Year's Resolutions each year. Fine! We'll play along. But I would suggest that we do it the right way.
New Year's Resolutions, or any resolutions for that matter, are a great idea! But not these half-measures. Let's resolve to do something. Let's make a promise to ourselves, and let's stick to it. I brought this exact topic up with the Next Generation of Disciples last night, and I think their answers are worthy of sharing (anonymously, of course).
Some of the things shared as personal resolutions were being more charitable, reading more, and waking up at 5:30 each morning. Wow! Not only were these shared, but each person spoke an "I resolve" statement, making public their intentions and creating accountability partners of the whole group. I have to say, I was pretty impressed with their responses!
However, we didn't stop there. Just like we can resolve things as individuals, we can resolve them as groups, too. All of us at that NGD meeting on Sunday belong to 2 specific groups that we spoke about: The Catholic Church and the United States of America. Yes, we went there.
We spoke about how the Capitol violence this Wednesday had affected each of us, and we were open and honest about our feelings. We agreed that it was difficult, painful, and saddening to watch. We agreed that we saw images that were decidedly un-American. But we didn't stop at just talking.
I asked our group what they want to see from our country in the coming year, and how we can make those things happen. The answers were very interesting. As Americans, our group resolved to do things like "not side with violence," "not generalize/lump people into categories," and "be willing to dialogue with people who hold opposing viewpoints."
Those all sound like good ideas to me. The great thing about being part of a community is that you can change it from the inside! If people on the "other side" aren't doing these things, that's not an excuse to forsake them yourself. Be the difference! Make the change! Serve as the example! Take a break from toxic social media posts and engage the folks you disagree with in an honest (and CALM) dialogue.
Finally, we came to the Church. The Catholic Church is our Church, and we have the power to change and influence it through the way we live our lives. Again, we didn't just talk about this. We resolved to make these changes ourselves. Otherwise, it's meaningless! Talk is cheap.
Our group resolved to be focused while praying and actively avoid the temptation our phones provide during times of silence. We resolved to be proud to be Catholic, and to be willing to speak the Truths of our faith boldly. Finally, we resolved to echo Jesus when he spoke to the woman caught in adultery.
Remember what He said? He asked the woman if anyone had condemned her (after His famous "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" line), and she said no. In response, He said "neither do I condemn you." This clearly calls us to open wide the doors of the Church and extend the hand of mercy. But Jesus doesn't stop there.
Jesus goes on to say "now go, and sin no more." We resolved to show both sides of the Church this year, the side of mercy and the side of truth. Again, this is not a hope or a want. These are things we resolved to do. I'd recommend considering doing the same. Hold yourself accountable! You won't regret it!
I pray that 2021 is a better year than 2020 for all of us. I hope that we all find some time to rest and relax, hopefully in person, before too long. Finally, I resolve to keep praying for you throughout the year!
God Bless you,