In 2022, resolve to let the Gospel penetrate your heart through community, faith, and scholarship.
In 2021, Benedictine College, where I work, launched a plan to “Transform culture in America through our mission of community, faith, and scholarship.”
That’s a tall order, but the plan is modeled on St. John Paul II’s document The Church in America, where he dedicated the Americas to Our Lady of Guadalupe and said, “Through her powerful intercession, the Gospel will penetrate the hearts of the men and women of America and permeate their cultures, transforming them from within.”
That only happens one person at a time — and one resolution at a time. Here are some ideas for New Year’s resolutions.
Resolve to build community in 2022 — in your family, in your parish, in your neighborhood.
One of the worst things about the pandemic and our political polarization is that it attacks our ability to build community. Social isolation was bad before; now it’s worse.
Building personal relationships is the way to fight back. One problem we face is that the entertainment media has “scripted” family and friend relationships to look certain ways: Beautiful people are brought inexorably together with other beautiful people. They suffer from neat and tidy problems and provide neat and tidy answers.
Friendship in the real world is more awkward and more messy. We help each other as much by our sharp edges as by our poise and brilliance. So don’t let perfect Hallmark movies be the enemy of good real-life relationships:
- Resolve to sacrifice computer or smart-phone time once a week and call a family member instead — especially, but not limited to, those family members who encourage, rather than discourage, your faith. If possible, go beyond a call and arrange a visit with them. Before your family can love like Bishop Robert Barron describes, they have to actually meet their “Uncle Tommy.”
- Resolve to find a parish opportunity for face-to-face contact: A Well-Read Moms group, a That Man Is You session, a Great Adventure Bible Study, or whatever your parish may offer. Then make friends with whoever shares your journey.
- Resolve to deliver Christmas cards to your neighbors in person and then follow up in the new year with Valentine’s Day cards in February and Easter cards in April. Being committed to people who are hard to be committed to is the New Evangelization.
Resolve to build your faith life in 2022.
You need hope in 2022. Hope makes the hard times bearable, and love is the rigging that keeps your life working right. But you can’t have hope or love without faith.
The only way to get faith is to talk to Jesus. You can’t get to know a human being you refuse to talk to, and you can’t know the Second Person of the Trinity if you won’t talk to him. There are a variety of aids in the art of prayer, but ultimately it all depends on the resolution to keep trying. Some ideas:
- Resolve to pray the brief morning prayer, daily meditation, and/or evening prayer from the Magnificat at Aleteia (at the links given or under “pray” above).
- Resolve to meditate daily, first thing, before anything else, or at whatever better time you can keep sacred. Click here for aids to the ABCS of meditative prayer.
- Resolve to pray a daily Rosary; lots of aids are available to make it easier (mine are here).
- Resolve to visit the Blessed Sacrament once or more per week (find a minute by minute guide here).
Resolve to bolster your intellectual life in 2022.
The last area is scholarship. Your faith needs fellowship to live and prayer to last, it needs scholarship to thrive. Faith revivals always dissipate unless they are rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition.
Luckily, we are living in a time when it is easier than ever to get high-quality intellectual faith formation.
- Resolve to read the Aleteia email newsletter every day to feed your faith with news and encouragement
- Resolve to sign up for and use whatever best feeds your faith: videos by Bishop Robert Barron or Father Michael Schmit or materials from the Augustine Institute, Catholic Answers, EWTN, etc.
- Resolve to read some of the great books available for the faith: Books by Brant Pitre (especially The Case for Jesus) and Jennifer Fulwiler (Something Other Than God) and Scott Hahn.
Last, on January 1, put all these resolutions in the hands of the Blessed Mother.
We begin the year with her for a reason: She is the expert in building community, nurturing faith, and growing in wisdom. And, as St. John Paul II said, Our Lady of Guadalupe will transform culture in America.