Every time we pass from one year to the next, when the world is celebrating with fireworks, alcoholic beverages and late nights, the Catholic must ponder the reality of the new year, especially the inundation of commercials and advertisements proposing solutions for one’s “New Year’s Resolutions”.
Therefore, the question that many readers may have is whether a Catholic, most especially a traditional Catholic, can take part in such New Year’s Resolutions. The answer to this seemingly loaded question lies in the understanding of the nature of humanity as a composite of body and soul.
If for example, a Catholic makes a purely natural resolution such as joining a gym to lose weight and get healthy during the new year, that same individual must contemplate the real reasons for this resolution. On a purely natural level, what good is it to just get fit for the sake of being fit? Is being fit going to entice the person to become vain in clothing attire, or in the choice of vacation spots? Is the choosing of a gym for the sole reason of meeting new people and potentially finding someone with similar interests of the opposite sex? Is this resolution just a matter of seductive and badgering advertisements and a way to carelessly use the money that an individual has been endowed with? All these reasons are purely natural, and do not assist the Catholic unto their Final End. In fact, in the words of Sacred Scripture, “For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul? (St. Matt 16:26)”.
Yet, the same resolution can be properly made if done with the right intentions, if the soul can make a resolution that is holy, noble, and is able to unite both the natural and supernatural aspects of this life unto his Final End which is the Beatific Vision. So, how can making a resolution to get fit meet such a standard worth of respect and acknowledgement by Almighty God? In this case, a soul who makes a resolution to get fit in order to respect the body as the temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 6:19), and to see the healthy body and mind as a vehicle to corporal and spiritual works of mercy does well in the natural and supernatural domains.
Yes, dear readers, resolutions for the new year can be very good in every way, if done with the right intention of mind and spirit. If our resolutions for the new year unite our human will with that of the Divine Will, in which there is no longer two wills, but the will of Almighty God, such resolutions are praiseworthy and to be encouraged by the faithful.
However, with any resolution that we should make (think of resolutions for Advent and Lent), it is more praiseworthy to remove a certain habit or character defect and subsequently replace such a habit or defect with a good action or habit lest the former problem or vice returns in haste. For example, choosing to abstain from chocolate or TV during seasons of penitence might be a good habit for a time, but what action or habit is such being replaced with? Maybe that soul could spend more time in prayer, choosing to spend 15-20 minutes a day in spiritual reading, choosing to make a retreat, or devoting oneself to the Blessed Virgin Mary by making the Total Consecration.
In my own life, I have made personal, professional, and spiritual resolutions. I have resolved to become a better man as well as a future husband and father by being more patient to those I am in contact with, and by refusing to respond too quickly to other’s faults, but rather see how my faults contribute to potential hardship and disparity. I have also resolved to become a better educator by finding more new, engaging, and fascinating ways to encourage my students to learn through projects and experiential opportunities. Finally, I have resolved to fully and completely devote myself to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, without any reservation, so that she may hold me in her mantle, guide my eyes, my ears, my nose, my tongue, and every member of my body so she may dispense to me the graces necessary to living a holy life rooted in the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, with an eventual reward of the Beatific Vision!
YES, resolutions for the new year are something to be encouraged to all Catholics, but only when these resolutions are done with the natural and supernatural in mind, and where the human will is totally and filially devoted to man’s Final End, his Lord Jesus Christ, and the blessedness of Heaven.