USHERING IN THE NEW YEAR is always a very special time because changing the calendar presents us with an opportunity for reflection and renewal of the trajectory of our lives. Always at the start of the year we experience the long-standing, worldwide tradition of resolving to make a positive change in our lives. Among the common resolutions people make may be a personal pledge to lose weight or stop smoking, climbing the career ladder or finding a nicer place to live.
While acknowledging the goodness of making positive life changes, I would like to make a suggestion for an important resolution that all of us might consider. It is quite different than most of the resolutions we are used to but it is one that could have a profound effect on our relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact, it is a resolution directive that comes from the Son of God himself as he said, “Be holy because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)
Resolve this year to work toward holiness. How do we accomplish holiness? We grow in it through the little things we do every day that reflect the love and forgiveness of God to members of our family, our neighbors, our co-workers, all whom we encounter. Pope Francis said, “The holiness to which the Lord calls you will grow through small gestures.” We grow in holiness by doing small things in prayer and service to others day after day; be more patient, listen better, refrain from harsh language, care for one another.
This advice comes from the Holy Father’s recent apostolic exhortation “Gaudete et Exsultate” (“Rejoice and Be Glad”), subtitled, “On the Call to Holiness in the Contemporary World,” in which he lays out for us a practical roadmap to help us lead holy lives. This New Year personal effort toward holiness that I suggest is really less of a resolution and more of a directive — the fulfillment of our baptismal call toward holiness. As the Holy Father says, “Let the grace of your baptism bear fruit in a path of holiness.”
By virtue of our baptism, we all have the ability to live holy lives. Pope Francis reminds us, “We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find our- selves.” Working toward holiness is not easy, but we can find the strength to persevere through prayer — asking for the help of the Holy Spirit — through the reading of sacred Scripture and the reception of the sacraments. By doing these things we can avoid the disappointment of unfulfilled past resolutions and start ourselves on a path to something much greater — something truly transformative in our lives.
This year, make a point to read the Holy Father’s apostolic exhortation, “Gaudete et Exsultate” (“Rejoice and Be Glad”), and in a particular way, reflect on its meaning and its call to action in our lives. Of all the New Year’s resolutions that could be made, this one may have a profound effect in helping anyone become the saint he or she was meant to be.