I love resolutions.
I make them every new year.
I make them every birthday.
I make them every Monday.
Now that I’m doing a daily examen, I make them every night.
Why do I love them, you might be asking?
Because I am a constant work in progress. A hot mess striving for perfection, and ain’t nothing gonna get me up that mountain except my puny gumption and a whole lot of God’s grace.
‘Cause we all know by now that getting to Heaven is not something we can do alone.
No one has ever raised herself up to Heaven by her own bootstraps. God does the heavy lifting. But we have to ask for His help, get rid of all the junk that weighs us down, and surrender.
Resolutions are, to me, hope for the future. Hope that I can grow. Hope that I can change. Hope that I, too, can follow Christ’s call to holiness and that someday I will be better! To me, a life without resolutions–MY life without resolutions–means I’ve given up and am satisfied with where I am. And the Good Lord knows that I NEVER will be that. There’s always one more thing to do…
I’m gonna work on Mortification.
I’ve got a lot to do. And I’ve got to let God do His part, too.
Whenever talk of resolutions comes around, I so often hear poo-poos from the crowd.
“Why bother?!” they say. “I always fail!”
Well, this year, I have a better answer than SO WHAT?! I have an answer from a saint.
St. Francis de Sales on resolutions:
Let us pass on now to the other question which you put to me — namely, what you can do to strengthen your resolutions and make them succeed? There is no better means, my daughter, than to put them in practice.
But you say that you are still so weak that, although you often make strong resolutions not to fall into the particular imperfection of which you want to cure yourself, no sooner does the occasion present itself than down you go. Shall I tell you why we are still so weak? It is because we will not abstain from food which does not agree with us. It is as if a person who wished to be free from pains in the stomach were to ask a physician what he should do. He would reply, “Do not eat such and such food, because it has that effect which brings you pain,” and yet the person will not abstain from it. We do the same: for example, we should like to love reproof, and yet we obstinately cling to our own opinion. That is foolishness; it cannot be. You will never be strong enough to bear reproof courageously while you are nourishing yourself with the food of self-esteem. I should wish to keep my soul recollected, and yet I will not restrain all sorts of idle thoughts; the two things are incompatible.
Ah! how much I wish that I could be steadfast and regular in my religious exercises; at the same time, I should also wish not to find them so trying — in fact, I should like to find the work ready- done for me. That cannot be in this life, for we shall always have to labor.
We must make two equally firm resolutions: one, to be ready to see weeds growing in our garden; the other, to have the courage to see them pulled up, and to pull them up ourselves, for our self-love, which produces these miseries, will never die while we live.
Besides, to sometimes fall into venial sin does not make a weak soul, provided that we rise up quickly, by turning the soul towards God and quietly humbling ourselves. We must not imagine that we can live without committing any sins, for only Our Lady had that privilege. Certainly, even if they retard our progress a little, as I have said, they do not turn us aside from the way; one single look at God effaces them.
Lastly, I would have you know that we must never cease to make good resolutions, even though we may be well aware that, generally speaking, we do not carry them into effect; yea, even if we should see that it will be out of our power to do so when the opportunity offers. Indeed, we must make them with still more firmness than if we felt within ourselves courage enough to succeed in our enterprise, saying to Our Lord: “It is true that I shall not have strength enough to do or to bear such and such a thing of myself, but I rejoice in my infirmity, because it will be Thy strength which will do it in me.”
Relying on this help, go forth courageously to the battle, and doubt not but that you will gain the victory. Our Lord treats us as a good father and a good mother treat their child, who is allowed to walk alone as long as he is on the soft grass of a meadow, or some mossy carpet, because even if he were to fall he could not do himself much harm; but on rough and dangerous roads they carry the little one tenderly in their arms.
We have often seen souls courageously sustaining great assaults, without being vanquished by their enemies, and yet afterwards defeated in very slight combats. Why is this, if not that Our Lord, seeing that they would not do themselves much harm by falling, has allowed them to walk alone, which He did not do when they were among the precipices of great temptations, from which His all-powerful hand extricated them.
So what resolutions will YOU be making this year…?
*taken from “The Spiritual Conferences of St Francis de Sales”, which comes from a series of talks he gave to his spiritual daughters, the Visitation Nuns of Annency, France. The quote above is from the public domain version of the book, translated at the beginning of the 20th century. But these talks were recently retranslated and reorganized for a lay audience by Sophia Press and republished as The Art of Loving God, which I highly recommend.
Image courtesty of Unsplash.