For many, welcoming in the new year is a time to start fresh and clean, form new habits, and welcome new beginnings. A time to make resolutions.
I've been good about making New Year Resolutions.
I've never been good about keeping New Year Resolutions.
A few years ago instead of making more traditional resolutions (get up an hour earlier, make time for exercise, eat healthy, etc.) I resolved to adopt little ways to become more fully aware of God's presence in my imperfect life. If this is something you'd like to try, here are three helpful tools to set your focus for the year.
Saint of the Year
Anyone who's been confirmed probably remembers either the ease or the agony of selecting a Confirmation Saint to walk with on your faith journey. You look for someone who's lived a holy life, who you connect with or admire; a life that you'd like to emulate in some way, and to ask for their intercessory prayers. Sometimes, the saint chooses you. They'll keep popping up into your life at odd, unexpected times until you finally notice and start paying attention to them. In 2011, Jennifer Fulwiler launched her Saints Name Generator to provide you with a random saint. It's very tempting to click over and over until you receive a name you recognize; however, there are times, when no matter how much I cringe at the first name I receive, that saint will suddenly "pop in" at some point during the year reminding me to give them consideration.
This year I received St. Robert Bellarmine (I'd never heard of him) and wouldn't you know the very next morning I opened my Morning Offering email and the first quote of the day was written by him. See what I mean?! Give it a try and see where it leads you.
Word of the Year
Choosing a Word of the year is a tool I've not used in years past; however the Word of the Year Generator (also created by Jennifer Fulwiler) began popping up in my Facebook feed over New Year's weekend, so I clicked the button and received the word: Follow.
Now, I should tell you that I've clicked this button three times over the past week and every time received the same word: Follow. I know there are other words, because my son clicked it right after me and received JOY, but then I clicked it again - Follow. So I placed this word prayerfully in my heart to become more aware of opportunities where God is calling me to Follow Him. Then last week I went to Mass for the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God and heard in the homily - Follow the virtues of Mary - patience, obedience, humility, courage, and confidence. Follow our blessed mother, she who says "Do whatever He asks of You."
Scripture of the Year
Meditating on a piece of scripture for the year is another tradition that's been around for a long time. For a few years I'd select one at random, but more recently I've listened for Gus Lloyd on the Catholic Channel's Seize the Day to offer his list of 12-15 verses. Every year when he returns to the live radio show after Christmas holidays, he invites callers to pick a number and then he gives them the corresponding verse. I printed the verse Col 3:17 (assigned to the number I selected) and posted it in various places so I'd remember it. This turned out to be a powerful tool that really influenced my year. So after receiving the word Follow, I tuned into Seize the Day, picked the number 12, and received Phil 2:14-16.
The more well-known popular verses from Philippians are found in Chapter 4, so when I turned to Philippians 2:14 and read, "Do everything without grumbling or questioning," I started laughing. I am the world's biggest grumbler and questioner! I think God is trying to tell me something. To go from doing everything in the name of God giving thanks - to doing everything without grumbling or questioning! I hear you....
These three tools helped me find a starting point for my 2019 spiritual resolution of becoming more fully aware of God being present. This year He is saying, Come Follow Me and Do everything (I ask of you) without complaining. While the year opens with a challenge - especially that scripture - I place my trust in Him. Last year, God revealed Himself to me at four distinct specific times and I am resolved to not doubt Him going forward. He is always in control of our lives and sometimes the long road, the hard climb, is not only allowed, but necessary to bring us closer to Him.