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Catholic Thoughts: A few ways to have a Happy New Year

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The New Year is here, and it is time to make some decisions about changes in our lives. We do this every year and it seems as if nothing changes. By Dec. 31, we are no closer to God, no happier and no more the good soul we would like to be. So, I offer you this list of things we can do to experience that change.

These “resolutions” are not meant to be taken in the usual way. These directives are tried and true methods to deeper our relationship with God. Take a few moments to prayerfully read my list and see what draws you in: Adopt someone. I don’t mean to adopt a baby, etc. I mean to make a person your special concern. Look around and choose to care for someone who needs help. The Gospel is meant to be lived one to one and Matthew 25 is all about taking it literally. Perhaps a lonely neighbor, a neglected child, a fellow worker, a single parent, our parish priest or even someone in our own family could use understanding, love and support. For this next year, we can be their advocate.

Be generous. Generosity is the best way to let go of greed and that “me first” attitude. The simplest way to begin is to embrace that old fashion custom of tithing. What I like to do is take 10 percent off the top of each week’s earnings. We give 4 percent to our parish, 3 percent to our favorite charity, and that final 3 percent to whomever God sends. When we keep this discipline, it changes our hearts from stone to flesh. We begin to start looking for a person, a place with whom to share our treasure.

Eat like a monk. Lifestyle changes are in order. Most of us will resolve to lose weight this year and it never works. Rather than go on a diet eat less, eat well, avoid eating between meals and follow a healthy lifestyle. The monk’s favorite is the Daniel diet. (read Daniel 1 for the details). A way to really take it up a notch is by keeping the traditional fasting and abstinence on Friday in real monk fashion. Then, we need to deal with the issue of addictions. Whether it is food, alcohol, gambling, drugs, etc. This is the time to be honest with our self and deal with it.

Bless the best. Look for the best in those around you. Be a light to others by blessing one person each day. When you see or hear someone doing good, tell them so. Look to Matthew 17:5 for the game plan that God gives us. When God the Father blesses Jesus, He calls Him by name and tells us that He is well pleased and then encourages us to listen to Him. We can bless in the same way: Call the person by name, tell them that you noticed the good they did and encourage them to keep it up. This is the divine threefold blessing that will work wonders to bring light into our world. Being a light means that we resist negative words that demean and destroy other’s self-esteem.

Travel light. Most of us first world folks have too much stuff. Lighten the burden of the things you have collected over the years and resolve to lessen the load. The Gospels tell us that all we need are sandals and a walking stick. Don’t you wish it was that simple? But, we can begin to give away or throw away all the stuff that is sitting around collecting dust. My method is to give away three or four things each week in my St Vincent de Paul box. Then, to keep the load light, if I buy something new, I give two away of like kind (new book in two old books out).

Have a date with God. God wants to talk to us sit with us and pour out His attention and love on us. But that can’t happen when we are too busy to spend time with God. All too often, God time
never happens in our day.

We need to decide to make a specific time to pray, to make a date with God. Whether it is that first cup of coffee and a conversation with God or an evening run in His company, we need to invite God every day in our lives.

This is my list of ways to keep my spirit humming through the ups and downs of another year. I am sure you can add to it. Take a few moments when you put this paper down and talk to God about what He might have in mind for your happy, new year.

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