by Father Mark Goldasich
It’s one of the best memes I’ve seen recently: “Before agreeing to 2022, I need to see its terms and conditions.”
After these past couple of years, that seems to be a wise course to take. From the advent of the pandemic to its continuation today, the world has been on a roller coaster ride.
In the face of so many global and national issues, we may feel powerless and paralyzed. But then, a new year knocks on the door to remind us that there is some place where we do have the power to change things for the better: It begins with our own life.
Ahead of us we have 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes and 31,536,000 seconds. How will you use that time?
Many people choose to make resolutions to begin the new year, which is recommended and admirable. However, most of those good intentions fade as the year goes on, and people end up pretty much the same on Dec. 31 as they were on New Year’s Day.
Perhaps some of the failure comes from trying to do too much at once. Or perhaps all the intended changes had to do only with our physical selves, such as losing weight or quitting some bad habit.
While taking care of our bodies is certainly good, we shouldn’t forget to care for our minds and souls as well. Father William Byrne in his book “5 Things with Father Bill” has some wonderful, practical suggestions for expanding our understanding of New Year’s resolutions:
• Spread gossip, but only good gossip. In other words, notice what is right with other people and spread compliments freely.
• Learn. Read more in this coming year, especially about your faith and the Bible. (The Leaven would be an excellent place to start!)
• Pray. Explore a new form of prayer or occasionally attend Mass on a weekday in addition to Sunday.
• Serve. Volunteer in some capacity at your parish or in the community.
• Make small sacrifices. Donate financially to a worthy cause, limit your screen time, forgo eating meat on some Fridays, help fold clothes or empty the dishwasher (even when it’s not your turn).
Most importantly, follow “rule three” as explained in this little story:
The managing director of a large corporation was sitting in his office talking with a client. Suddenly, a secretary burst into the room with a sheaf of impressive documents. He talked excitedly at great length, seeking to impress upon his boss the desperate nature of his problem.
“Jones,” said the manager, “please don’t forget rule three.” The secretary looked startled, then folded his papers and left the room smiling.
Overcome by curiosity, the client asked the manager to tell him about rule three.
“Rule three,” he replied, “is: Don’t take yourself too seriously.”
“And what are rules one and two?” asked the client.
“There are no other rules in this business,” the manager replied, “only rule three.” (Adapted from a story in Anthony Castle’s “A Treasure of Quips, Quotes & Anecdotes for Preachers and Teachers.”)
I suspect the world would be quite a different place if we practiced “rule three.” Hostile threads would disappear from Twitter and Facebook, political posturing would be eliminated and polarization would be transformed into cooperation.
My motto for 2022 is summed up in the words on a holy card included in my Christmas cards this year: “Out of darkness shall come dawn, out of winter shall come spring, out of striving shall come peace — not by our power, but by the power of God.”
Now, those are terms and conditions I can agree to!