Setting a New Year’s resolution may have become a dreaded or hackneyed cultural charge, but at its core, it is a spiritual exercise, an invitation to pause and reflect before the holiday train barrels right into a busy new year.
Determining a resolution for the New Year – assessment and discernment – and the deliberate living that is required to execute one, that’s the heavy lifting that defines the spiritual life of women religious. It is work we can all undertake this January.
A number of sisters are sharing their resolutions online. Susan Rose Francois, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, recently blogged about her pledge to be “an artisan of peace” in 2017.
"We are called to walk the path of nonviolence in every sphere of our relationships. Like Jesus, we navigate relationships with each other, the state, society and economy each day. Each of these encounters offers us an opportunity to choose nonviolence grounded in unconditional love. If we are to be artisans of peace, our social context is our canvas, and our actions, responses and choices are our brush strokes. I don't know about you, but most of my opportunities for growing in nonviolence present themselves close to home — friends, family, coworkers, you name it. Every word spoken or action chosen is a chance to build up or to tear down.
I suspect the coming year will also provide many opportunities to join with others in active nonviolent resistance to systemic oppression, hateful speech and policies that negatively impact people on the margins of society. Pax Christi USA's website offers some good suggestions for starting the new year by celebrating the World Day of Peace."
Meanwhile, the Dominican Nuns at Corpus Christi Monastery in Menlo Park, Calif., a cloistered community, seized the New Year to announce their 2017 “Come And See Days,” in which young women are invited to visit and get a fuller picture of the Dominicans’ life.
“It’s that time of year when most are considering New Year resolutions for 2017,” they wrote. “For many young people, God is asking them to seek Him and discern His calling for their life. If that’s you (or someone you know), read on!” (The site provides a number of resources for those considering religious life, including a beautiful St. Augustine quote that leads into advice for those whose parents are opposed to their pursuing religious life.)
Our friend Sister Julie Vieira, IHM, posted a New Year’s resolution five years ago that still rings true. She titled the reflection “When New Year’s Resolutions Find Us.”
Sister’s Julie resolution was inspired by words from a late IHM sister:
Happy moments, praise God.
Difficult moments, seek God.
Quiet moments, worship God.
Painful moments, trust God.