Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,
It feels good to get the New Year started! It has been a blessing to have the seminarians around for a few weeks during the Christmas vacation. Dan returned to Sacred Heart Major Seminary this past week. Josh and Randy will be returning to St. John Vianney Seminary at the end of January. Along with helping at Masses, they have helped with a variety of projects around the parishes. This past deer season, that included helping me and Fr. Tomy butcher several deer!
I would like to quote here part of a great reflection on making resolutions for this New Year by Rachel Bulman: https://www.wordonfire.org/resources/blog/2021-resolutions-will-need-to-look-back-and-move-forward-with-christ/29401/
Making plans for the future must include a look back. Whatever you learned from 2020 should help to orient your goals for 2021. Looking back on this whirlwind of a year may be painful, but it also revealed a lot about each of us. Among other things, we found out how deeply we need each other, how valuable it is to spend time with the ones we love, and the many areas in our social framework that need to be ordered to the human person.
What did you learn from 2020 about yourselves or those around you? How can those lessons impact how you will approach 2021? As you consider your resolutions, place them in this necessary light, asking the same question that you should ask of all action: “How is this ordered to my Christian perfection? How does my resolution help close the past and open up the future to me?”
Invite Christ Into Your Discernment
So, for 2021, invite Jesus into your resolution discernment. Who knows what you truly need to do better than Christ, who is always faithful, and who knows the plans God has for you? Who looked with love on the young man who had kept all of the commandments, and clearly told him the one thing he still had to do (Mark 10:19-22)? In that Gospel, we read that the young man’s face fell, and he walked away. Many biblical scholars believe that this young man shows up later, in the Acts of the Apostles, as John Mark, whose first failure did not preclude continual work toward perfection in Christ.
Don’t Stop Trying
To be resolute in something requires the determination to pursue even after we fail and for that hope to be grounded in something other than ourselves. Even the desire to become the best version of oneself is ultimately to become a better servant to others. A physically stronger you is a more self-reliant you, a more supportive you. A spiritually stronger you is a more spiritually generous you. A you that can keep trying even when it seems like the February Failures are flourishing is a more stable (thus stabilizing) you. And remember, you’ve invited God into this effort. Call on Christ. Call on the saints. Ask for help and help will come.
Wherever you determine the best place for your resolve in 2021, may it be seen in the light of Christian perfection, of lessons you’ve learned this past year, and toward the future of your ordinary life. You cannot resolve to become an Olympic gymnast this year if you’ve never done gymnastics and have no time to learn. But you can allow yourself to be trained to your best life. Remember Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
You can do this, but not without Christ. Be resolute in beginning always with him, and the rest will be done through your reliance on his strength.