Sin-loss Resolutions: Faith resolutions for the New Year

January 9, 2018

It is a brand new year, and that means it is once again the season for people to make resolutions to change or improve a facet or another of their lives. For many, these resolutions revolve around diet and exercise. Promises are made, plans are drawn, and gym memberships are purchased, only for the promises to be broken, the plans to be set aside and the memberships to go unused.

For us Christians, this is also a good time to make resolutions about our faith; hopefully with more success than our secular plans! The faith equivalent of a weight-loss resolution would be a sin-loss resolution.

To put it in a better way, our resolution should be to lose everything that separates us from God, so that we may be more like Christ. That is the goal of our life as Christians, to be other “Christs” in the world, bringing God’s healing presence to others.

According to St. Paul “we are God’s co-workers” (1 Cor 3:9). Being Christ’s disciples and collaborators is no easy task, as Jesus warned us: “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me...” (Lk 9:23). We must become strong for this task. The faith equivalent of an exercise resolution is, of course, spiritual exercises! Many people don’t realize that our spirit has faculties of intellect and will go “flabby” when unused. Have you, or someone you know, gone back to school after several years of having left it behind? Most people describe their experience of doing this in terms akin to physical pain and exertion. Cracking those books open and trying to concentrate and formulate a thought after some time of not doing so takes quite an effort.

Unfortunately, our society today plays a big role in this intellectual state of affairs. Take “fake news,” for instance, a particularly toxic form of intellectual “junk food” that is fed to so many people in so many forms. As aspiring Christian athletes, we need to feed our intellect with the best food possible. Luckily for us, we are possessors of a vast intellectual tradition to draw from: from the Early Fathers to St. Thomas Aquinas, all the way to today’s popes and thinkers, we have the best the world has to offer.

Our will, too, must be trained so that we are able to deny ourselves as required of Christ. We are no slouches in this area either, and the approaching Lenten season is optimal to return to the practices of prayer, fasting and alms-giving that help us turn from ourselves and enable us to recognize others and care for their needs. Our plans have better chance of success when we engage others in our quest, as even secular society recognizes with a myriad of personal trainers, and “life coaches” popping all over the place.

Without God’s grace our efforts are doomed to failure. What’s better than a detox diet? A soul detoxed from sin and reconciled with God through the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Are you looking for the next greatest super-food? We have that too in the super-Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist that gives us Christ’s body and blood, soul and divinity for our salvation.

You know the drill: make your resolutions with concrete and achievable goals. Don’t try to do too much at once. Get a partner for the journey. Put on Christ and listen to your mother; your mother Church, that is. May God’s presence fill you and make shine with joy this new year and ever! 

Juan Carlos Moreno is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.