Why, what, and how?: Weekly Message for 01-23-2024

Dear Friends in Christ,

Three weeks into the New Year… How are those New Year’s resolutions panning out? “New Year’s what?” you say!

It is not too late to renew and start again. But before doing so, perhaps some considerations are in order.

Ask yourself:  Why, what and how?

First, why did you make those New Year’s resolutions?

We are eager for fresh beginnings to age-old problems: those extra pounds, that bad habit, the needed good habit that must be formed. Examine your motive, renew or change it. Is it made in light of a profound truth? You are an heir to the promises of God. Take to heart St. Paul´s words in Galatians 3:29. “If you belong to Christ, then you are…heirs according to the promise.” The Lord has already promised victory. Go back to the beginning. The Protoevangelium hides a promise to come: “I will put enmity between you and the women, between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel” (Gen 3:15). Do you believe that this first gospel applies to your life? That you are an heir to the victory promised by the Lord at the beginning of human history?

No, I am not saying that those twenty pounds are going to magically come off if you just have faith! But even resolutions related to physical health can be renewed with a deeper motivation. We are created in God’s image, blessed as a child of God; He desires our wholeness. Even those not needed pounds convert to encouragement in the battle to sacrifice for the sake of giving God glory in a healthy body.

Second, what is your resolution?

Is it orienting you toward a final victory as heir to the promise? If not, Romans 8:17 can offer inspiration. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” No matter the nature of your resolution, to improve physical, mental or spiritual health, it becomes your way to participate in the redemptive work of the Lord, which implies sharing in the fullness of the Paschal mystery. Yes, you get to rejoice in the glory of achievement. But, the process bears fruit. The cross of walking toward victory becomes a daily offering, a forging of virtue and a building of the Kingdom.

Third, how?

One of the greatest sixteenth century saints answers this question: With “determined determination,” says Saint Teresa of Avila.

In her autobiography she shares her personal struggles with prayer. Through it she discovered that to persevere in prayer one must have great determination. But far from white-knuckling, she reminds us that we engage because we are invested in a relationship, for prayer is nothing more than «friendly intercourse, and frequent solitary converse, with Him Who we know loves us» (Autobiography 8.5). Even in the midst of great consolation, Teresa redirects the person’s gaze to Christ, recommending detachment from the avid search for ease and delight. Rather, we must enter prayer with a single-minded determination to help Christ carry his Cross (Autobiography 15.10). And in The Way of Perfection (Chapters 21, 23, 32), she encourages the reader to possess «determined determination», not for the sake of being perfect, but rather for loving.

Why, what and how. Renew your New Year’s resolution(s), making this year about bettering relations with the one who calls you to victory.

I must go now to take my own advice! Let us pray for one another in our renewed daily endeavors to love, serve and walk with the Lord. 

God bless, 

Jennifer Ristine

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To what are we heirs?
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