Monday, January 6, 2014

Outsourcing New Year’s Resolutions

I recently read Erika Marie’s enlightening post about resolutions here: http://catholicmom.com/2013/12/17/less-me-more-you-new-resolutions/ In it she writes, “The word ‘resolution’ comes from the Latin resolutio-/resolution, from resolvere, meaning ‘to loosen or dissolve again…’”

That beautiful explanation helped me to better understand the desire to create New Year’s resolutions in the first place. I now see that what I’m trying to do is to break away from something instead of doing something new. By emphasizing the bond that needs breaking instead of the new activity that needs to be started, the actor becomes God and not me. Only God can break the chains of sin. And He doesn’t do it through a new organization app, paper system, or exercise. He does it in the confessional.

I perk up at this realization. Instead of working on a list of initiatives for the New Year and ignoring the gnawing of doubt that I’m, again, not going to live up to my expectations for myself, I can now instead examine what has imprisoned me and go to our omnipotent and merciful Brother in confession for help.   I can outsource the hard work of New Year’s resolutions to Jesus.

Feeling more confident already in my plans for the New Year, I take a look at what the catechism says about the sacrament:

The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship…Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true “spiritual resurrection,” restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God. (1468)

“Of which the most precious is friendship with God.” How often I fall into thinking that if I could only lose five more pounds, or keep the bathrooms clean, or be better on top of my paperwork, I’d be happy. While those aren’t in contradiction with a friendship with God, they can only be the means, not the end. God wants so much more for me than smaller jeans and a clean bathtub. He wants me to be His close friend.

I read on:

This sacrament reconciles us with the Church. Sin damages or even breaks fraternal communion. The sacrament of Penance repairs or restores it. In this sense it does not simply heal the one restored to ecclesial communion, but has also a revitalizing effect on the life of the Church which suffered from the sin of one of her members. (1469)

This last part is new to me. I’d learned growing up that there is no isolated sin—that a sin committed in secret also harms the body of Christ, the Church, through the communion of saints. But I never considered the positive side of this: that the sacrament of reconciliation heals not only me but also the entire Church! How beautiful! We can truly be instruments of peace on earth simply by making good confessions. The thought cheers me as I recall the gloomy headlines of the morning’s paper.

I get out a piece of paper and write Things that Need Breaking, making a note of the areas in which lack of trust in God, fear, anger, and plain temptation wreak havoc in my life. It’s a coward’s list, not a super mom’s, and certainly not an occasion for pride. Resolutions in hand, I now know where to take them: to the confessional, where Jesus can do the heavy-lifting.

Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" (Jn 11:40)








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