Stepping out of your comfort zone in 2014

January 14, 2014

As we begin a new year, I am sure many of you have made New Year’s resolutions and most of you have probably already broken them within the first two weeks of 2014. I have never been one to make resolutions, but this year I decided to do something a little different and I hope some of you will join me. 

Like most of the world, I have been enthralled with Pope Francis, reading all of his writings, his interviews, his daily homilies, basically anything and everything related to 2013’s Time’s Person of the Year. 

On Dec. 31, Pope Francis, speaking at an evening prayer service at St. Peter’s Basilica, called us all to step out of our comfort zones this year and seek to make a change in the world. He said we should reflect on the following questions regarding last year: “Have we used it mostly for ourselves, for our own interests or did we know to spend it for others, too?; How much time did we set aside for being with God, in prayer, in silence, in adoration?” 

Based on these questions and other quotes from Pope Francis, here are a few resolutions that you may consider taking up this year: 

1. Make time for others.
The pope is now famous for calling everyday people on the phone and talking with them, responding to letters with handwritten notes, and greeting anyone and everyone he can. If the pope can take time out of his busy schedule, we can, too. 
When was the last time you have gone out of your way to just sit and visit with someone, or called a family member or friend on the phone to catch up?

2. Make time for God in prayer.
Pope Francis begins every morning in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament before celebrating Mass in community with the other Vatican employees. 
Not all of us have the time to stop by a church for daily Mass or adoration every day, but what a difference it would make if we tried once a week to spend an hour in quiet prayer and meditation. 

3. Make humble purchases.
Pope Francis has challenged us all to live a more humble lifestyle. He has chosen to not live in the Papal apartment, or ride in the most expensive car. 
He has warned us over and over again about the evils of materialism. It is OK to have nice things, but do we go above and beyond to have the newest fashion or newest technology? 

4. Serve the poor.
The one consistent message from Pope Francis throughout this past year has been to go out and serve the poor. Many times we give our money to the Church or to charities, which is a good thing, but we should also take time to serve the poor in the flesh. 
Volunteer at a soup kitchen or food pantry, talk to the homeless man on the street corner rather than ignoring him, there are numerous opportunities to serve, and the pope tells us to go out and find the poor and care for them. 

5. Stop judging others.
Probably Pope Francis’ most famous quote so far, “Who am I to judge?” It is God’s job to judge, we are called to love and respect everyone. Whether someone lives a different lifestyle than us, practices a different religion or holds different opinions our response to them should be love and kindness. 

6. Be joyful.
I think the first year of Pope Francis’ papacy can be summed up in one word: joy. Pope Francis lives his life as a joyful disciple of Christ and that is what makes him attractive to everyone. The most important way we can live and share our faith is by living each and every day in the peace and joy of Jesus Christ. 

I encourage all of you to prayerfully discern how you can take up a resolution in 2014 that will help you grow in your faith. 

Pick one of the above resolutions that seems the most challenging to you, that makes you the most uncomfortable and then pray every day that you will be able to keep that resolution this year.