I would warn anyone who is attempting to advance in the spiritual life to avoid making New Years’ resolutions. I’m telling you this for your own safety.
Have you ever called upon the Holy Spirit in your morning prayer to help you practice the virtue of patience? In the moment, you feel all austere and repentant, kneeling with your hands clasped in the Port. You applaud yourself for the way you recognize your fault and expectantly await the pure bliss and good-feeling toward your fellow man that is about to lead you through the rest of your life.
You might as well call up Pope Francis now and get the beatification process started early (there’s so much paperwork; it’ll ease things up for him in the end).
Then, approximately one hour later, you’ve spilled coffee on your jacket, your professor announces that you’ve got a 45-page paper due in two days, and your roommate’s emotional support Komodo dragon has escaped and chewed up your satin pillowcase.
Suddenly the truth dawns on you in a horrible flash: patience isn’t going to be delivered to you in a Packcity locker.
Patience is picking up your roommate’s emotional support Komodo dragon and giving it a little kiss and putting it back in its little Komodo dragon house and buying a new pillowcase even when every fiber of your being is crying out for vengeance.
But back to my original point. These secular people, they love their New Years’ Resolutions. They love their watered-down Walmart brand of Ongoing Conversion.
It’s fun for them to proclaim before Zuckerberg and Man that they’re going to “make an effort to meditate every day,” and they will indeed arise early each morning before their corporate Zoom call to sit and do breathing exercises for five minutes in an empty apartment.
Catholics, we don’t have it so easy. Take this very particular and not at all personal example.
My cousin, for the first time in her life, made a New Years’ resolution to Be On Time For Things (background: my cousin has a history of Not Being On Time For Things, often for very justifiable and not at all unnecessary reasons).
Now, my cousin felt very good about this. So good, in fact, that she did not even take it to prayer. She just decided on her own that it was time to make a change.
Unfortunately, the Omnipotent and Inescapable Triune God got wind of her resolution, and, rather than granting my cousin the simple ability to arrive five minutes early for work in Crafton, he did things like allow large snowstorms to bury her Honda CR-V in a foot of snow (which she expertly extracted in only 65 minutes, causing her to be only 65 minutes late).
Or, instead of allowing her the ability to turn her first Troubadour column of the semester in on time, she was mysteriously struck with temporary amnesia and watched Sing Street instead of writing, despite the 24 email reminders that she received over the course of the week.
My cousin has a lot of similar examples. You should ask my cousin about it sometime.