Sunday, 30 December 2012

New Year's Resolutions

As the new year approaches in just a couple days, it is about time that we consider the significance of making resolutions. Here are some resolutions I am making - I don't expect to be perfectly successful in keeping all of these. I will divide these into two categories: general resolutions which apply to everybody, and some resolutions for myself personally. 

General Resolutions. Here I have five general resolutions which should be relevant to the lives of all Christians, since they pertain directly to the spiritual life. I would heartily recommend to anybody who reads this to join me in making these resolutions. (Note: there are probably quite a few other important things that one could resolve in addition to these... This is just something off the top of my head. So bear with me.)

1. To completely abandon myself to Divine Providence and the Will of God. The way to sanctity is to desire nothing except the Will of God. This should be obvious. But it is much easier said than done. To completely conform ourselves to the Will of God requires a spirit of detachment from our own wills, from the things which we desire in this world, from anything in which we take pleasure. We have to be willing to give up everything, if that were God's Will for us. It is in this practice that the virtues of Hope and Love are cultivated: we place complete confidence in God's providence, that He will direct us to our own good; and we love nothing except Him and His Will. 

2. To prepare myself for whatever future sufferings, great or small, God will send me. This resolution is actually very connected to the previous one.  This is because the key to preparation for suffering is the complete abandonment to Divine Providence. If we love the Will of God alone, we must love our sufferings too, insofar as they are God's Will for us. As a piece of encouragement, we must grasp the fact that God Wills nothing which is not for our own good, and that if we were to resist, it would destroy us rather than save us. We must place our trust in God completely, and embrace our sufferings with loving patience.

3. To reform my life of prayer. Prayer is necessary for salvation. We cannot achieve sanctity without raising our hearts and minds to God, in an intimate personal conversation with Him. If our life of prayer is disjointed, inconsistent, and without structure, it is likely to be much more difficult for us to preserve this constant conversation with God, and thus more difficult for us to merit the graces of salvation. 

4. To cultivate interior silence and solitude. It is in the silence and solitude of our hearts that God is best able to speak to us. Interior silence implies in us a freedom of the mind from all worldly thoughts and imagination, in order to let God fill our minds and hearts completely, so that there be no room for anything but Him. A spirit of solitude, likewise, must be cultivated, in that we must be detached from the society of men, seeking principally the friendship and companionship with God; this is not to say that we must shun society altogether, for Charity forbids us to do so. But we must not become attached; we must prefer the company of God to that of men.

5. To spend more time in devotional and spiritual reading. There is a wealth of wisdom provided for us by the many Saints and spiritual writers whom the Catholic Church has produced. Francis de Sales, Thomas Kempis, John of the Cross, Catherine of Sienna, Teresa of Avila, Therese of Liseaux, Sister Faustina, Garrigou-Lagrange - and so many others, canonized or not. One can benefit immensely from the reading of their works. 

That should roughly conclude my general resolutions. 

Particular Resolutions for Myself
These pertain to me personally. This will also serve as another sort of introduction of myself for my readers...

1. To prepare for college. As many of you probably know, I am still a senior in high school right now. I will be leaving the house in August for Thomas Aquinas College, in Southern California. I have a lot of preparation to get done before then. Something to pray for, also, and I wouldn't mind if you all helped out with those prayers.

2. To plan my summer. I have at least one big event in the summer, and that's the Sacred Music Colloquium, which will be in Salt Lake City for the second year in a row. Other than that, while I'm home I will need to get a job and earn some money for college and books and other things. I think that's probably the most important thing for summer, as part of a preparation for college.

3. To win a piano competition. In the beginning of March I will be participating in a local piano competition. If I win I get a good sum of money. Another way to start preparing for college. St. Cecilia pray for me! Also, maybe I should look for some more piano competitions...

4. To really focus on finishing high school. At this time of my life, there are so many distractions which can enter my mind that it's hard to focus. So I need to prioritize all my interests, and really focus on school. I also need to improve my time-management skills.

5. To pray and prepare for whatever vocation God has in mind for me. As happens to any good Catholic young man, I have to discern my vocation. It's the standard story: ought I to marry or enter the priesthood/religious life? As for the latter, there are several options. If I were called to the priesthood, I would most likely join the Fraternity of St. Peter, who specialize in the Traditional liturgy of the Church and teach using very Traditional methods of theology. But I might also consider the religious life in either the Dominican or Benedictine orders. I like the Dominicans, because they teach, and are very involved in scholarly and academic pursuits (think St. Thomas Aquinas). But I also like the Benedictines, because they are very contemplative; and I'm sort of that kind of a person. And then there's the married life to consider. To me that seems like another quite strong possibility. Between the priesthood/religious life and marriage I think there's about a fifty-fifty chance for me, at this point. So I need to pray hard about that, and expect some signs from God. In March I'll be visiting the FSSP seminary in Nebraska, so that's a start. But maybe I won't get any real signs in the next year; probably not, in fact. I still have a lot of life to live first...

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