A New Year’s Resolution in Christ
The secular world focuses on material growth and gain. This is why the many resolutions we see proclaimed every year circle around physical appearance, diets, exercise, or relationships. Rarely, does the secular person look to examine one’s conscience and seek to uproot a vice that is detrimental to the soul.
The Pope recently challenged everyone to cease being a slave to the desires of the world and seek true freedom via Christ. This involves rejecting vice, an illusionary good, and accepting virtue which alone frees us.
Examining one’s conscience is true freedom because it acknowledges the chains of sin that are apparent in our life and seeking freedom from those vices. What vices do we seek to uproot in our quest for spiritual perfection?
St Teresa of Avilla, mystic and doctor of the Church, wrote extensively on Christian perfection. Her book, Interior Castle, looked at the many stages or mansions one must enter before union with Christ is possible. The first stage involved the initial acknowledgement of one’s imperfections and a desire to purge oneself from these vices. A good New Year’s resolution that is Christocentric is a good step in identifying vices and accepting the grace of the Holy Spirit to move towards Christ.
In examining one’s conscience for the coming New Year, St Ignatius Loyola offers sound and strong advice. His methods of examination were from a military background that identified the enemy, acknowledged weaknesses and then sought to eliminate them one by one. Of course, in this analogy, Christ is the general that leads us and gathers us against the enemies of our soul, which is vice.
In applying these principles, remember that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. One of the biggest obstacles to spiritual perfection is despair. How many times, do we fail in our spiritual endeavors? Is it a sin of sloth that prevents us from awakening early for Church on Sunday? Is it the weakness of the flesh that push us to lustful desires? One must expect failures in our new endeavors this New Year, but it is the effort that will ultimately push us over the top of the hill. Christ’s grace will give us the necessary will power to eventually overcome the vice that has soiled our soul for so long. Christ is an understanding God ,but also an understanding friend. He welcomes our effort and discourages our despair when we fail. He understands the nature of vice and its habitual control over the soul. He is patient and He is merciful.
If we persist, despite shortcomings, if we continue the good struggle, the evil habit will be removed from our soul, through the grace of the Holy Spirit that transforms our soul and frees us from the slavery of that particular vice.
So, this New Year’s, what vice will you eliminate this year from your life? What step will you take towards sainthood and Christian perfection? I think the key to remember is Christian perfection is only reached in Heaven, but we must start the steps here as sinners!
If you are interested in learning more about Christian Counseling Training or would like to become certified in Christian Counseling, then please review the program. If the program matches your academic and professional needs, then consider taking the steps of becoming a certified Christian Counselor.
Mark Moran, SCC-C