Advent/Liturgical Seasons/My Faith The New Year You Forgot About by Leah Murphy When I was 6 years old, there was a book was on display in the family room. It had a picture of Pope John Paul II on the cover and about 1,000 pages of text about his life inside. And around 11:45 p.m. on New Year’s Eve 1998 I decided that my resolution for the year of 1999 would be to read this book, Witness to Hope by George Weigel. And I failed. Little first-grade-me did not complete that book in 1999. Let’s be real, what 6 year-old is really going to sit down and read 1,000 pages about Karol Wojtyla’s childhood, his philosophical and theological formation, his battles with 20th century thought and communism, and his commitment to God as the Vicar of Christ? As unattainable as that resolution was for my little self, it was still a good resolution, as are most New Year’s resolutions. January 1st is a great time in our lives to reflect on the past year and set goals to grow and become better in the next — even if some of our resolutions are a little far-reaching. In the holiday chaos that takes place from Halloween to New Year’s Eve, it’s easy to miss the fact that our Church welcomes a new liturgical year at the beginning of every Advent season. And just because there probably won’t be a special on NBC with Ryan Seacrest in Times Square ringing in Advent, doesn’t mean you can’t take the Liturgical New Year just as seriously as a regular old New Year celebration! Advent is a great time to reflect on our spiritual journey of the last year and resolve to grow in the coming one… like a spiritual New Year’s resolution! This season provides us with an opportunity to seek and commit to new ways of loving Jesus better in the coming year. It could mean committing to offering your day to Jesus with a prayer every morning, making it to at least one weekday Mass per week, or asking Mary to help you in loving her son by praying a daily or weekly Rosary. You could also commit to getting to know the lives of the saints better, so you can emulate them, as they emulated Christ. Or you can commit to studying your faith more, by reading Scripture, the Catechism, and magisterial documents, or to sharing your faith more by evangelizing and doing good works for others. The possibilities are endless! But how do we make sure that our Liturgical New Year’s resolutions don’t just slip away from us once Advent is over and we get stuck in a Christmas-cookie-coma? 1. PRAY! Ask God to guide you in making your resolutions and trust that He will give you the necessary grace to follow through with those that will truly draw you closer to Him. 2. Set resolutions that will challenge you! Don’t be afraid of setting a goal or committing to something that seems difficult. Nobody ever grew without enduring some kind of challenge! 3. Keep going when it gets tiring/boring/monotonous/fill-in-the-blank. Do your best to persevere in your commitments, even when they don’t feel like they’re drawing you closer to God. It’s in these moments that Our Lord gives you the opportunity to love him purely for who He is as God, not just for what He can give you as Savior. Never pass up an opportunity to show God that you love Him even when He doesn’t give you good feelings and happy thoughts – He didn’t pass up that opportunity for you on the Cross. 4. Write down your resolutions! Write them in ink and stick them somewhere you’ll always be reminded of your goals. This way, when you pass that little resolution note everyday, you’ll be reminded of your commitment. Although it wasn’t a Liturgical New Year’s resolution, when I committed to reading Witness to Hope sixteen years ago, I knew I was resolving to do something that was near impossible – and in that year, it proved to be impossible. I had some growing up to do before I could read that book and really appreciate it. However, I wrote down that goal and, sixteen years later, I held myself to it and read that book – and I got a lot out of it, more than I ever would have gotten when I was 6! I hope that your Liturgical New Year resolutions don’t take sixteen years to accomplish like my New Year’s resolution of 1999 did. However, if they take longer than expected, God just might be waiting for you to grow up a little bit before he helps you accomplish them all so that you can really appreciate them. Merry Advent and Happy New Year!