Dear Pope Francis,
Happy New Year! There have been lots of reflection about 2014, and wishes for 2015. One big part of New Year’s rituals that receives a lot of attention is the New Year’s Resolutions. There are memes and articles offering advice about the resolutions to make (or not), humour and practical tips about how to make Resolutions stick. Despite reading many different articles in my time, I (like many people) have yet to actually follow through on a New Year’s Resolution.
In many ways, I have become disenchanted by the whole idea of New Year’s Resolutions. It puts a lot of pressure on a single time of year and a particular set of goals. Instead I have lots of smaller times throughout the year when I focus on different goals because they make sense at that point in time. For instance, this semester in school is going to be crazy, so I want to focus on being proactive, and setting (and keeping) boundaries for the time I spend doing different things. While these are both good things, they won’t be necessary in the same way when I finish my school work. Come the spring, when I’m (hopefully) finished of my degree, I’ll take some time and re-evaluate goals then.
All of that being said, New Year’s is always a time to reflect on what has happened in the last twelve months, and there is a sense of optimism that comes from the fresh start. What I have been reflecting on this year is the fifteen spiritual maladies you presented to the Curia in your Christmas Address. It seems so appropriate to talk about the challenges to living a life of faith as illnesses, when you described the Church as a field hospital (“Big Heart Open to God”, interview with Anthony Spadaro).
I can think of times when I have fallen with each of the maladies you mention. What gives me hope is that you opened the list by mentioning the normalcy of catching these ailments – we all fall victim to them. You don’t leave us there, you remind us that we are always called to “grow in communion, sanctity and wisdom”. This isn’t just a reminder for when the year changes, it is a continual call every day to resist these illness and actively take care of our spiritual lives so that we can grow.
So, while I’m spending the next few months being proactive and keeping tabs on boundaries, I am also going to work to keep myself spiritually healthy. This isn’t necessarily a New Year’s Resolution, because it’s something that I should be doing regardless, and the very faith I profess continually calls me deeper, with the changing liturgical season, with receiving the Sacraments and daily prayer.
Wishing you health, joy and peace in the New Year,