Friday, December 28, 2018

New Year's Resolutions

It's that time of year again! Time to get new calendars on the wall; time for making new ourselves, maybe to our family members or even to God about an area or two of life where we recognize that change is in order. It may be much needed attention to physical health (daily exercise! healthy diet!) or to spiritual health (daily prayer! consistent spiritual reading!); whatever it is, the start of a new year is a great time to renew our good will and to create some kind of practical strategy for maintaining that good will.

Along those lines, Father Alberione preached an end-of-retreat sermon in 1957 in our hospital outside of Rome. The retreatants were probably a mixed group of vowed religious who were patients in the hospital (his sermons were uncharacteristically broad), but as the retreat drew to a close, Alberione did not spare them the "spiritual work" of making firm resolutions for the future, however much time they had. He encouraged them to stir up their own good will.

I offer a quick translation of the beginning of that retreat sermon as we prepare to close the books on 2018 and begin a new year, a new year of grace and salvation, in just a few days:

It recently happened that an 81-year-old man died. The doctor who cared for him in his final illness had said to him,"I don't understand how with all these ailments you were able to have such a long life." The sick man answered, ”I have always had very strong will. I bore my aches and pains with patience and I used to tell myself: Tomorrow will be better than today. And so, with the courage that I had and with constant prayer, I was always able to work, even until quite recently."

We have a great natural power within us. When there is a sincere, heartfelt, decisive will, that is when we make the resolution not to be saints halfway, but saints all the way. And every morning we make the decision: I will begin today. What I have done until now is little; I want to do more today. Thus, renewing our good will every day, we can make progress.

Will power: generally we don't take enough advantage of the fruit, the energy that comes from a good will. How many things good will can do in the natural order and how many more things can be done through good will in the spiritual order!
Determine one area, establish it well and return frequently to that decision during the examen of consciousness… and with spiritual reading, making use of anything that can help you to observe the resolutions made. Don't do this because a certain saint has done thus and so, it is you yourself who made that resolution!

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