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Discernment and New Year’s resolutions

Certainly, there is something originally pagan about the habit of making New Year’s resolutions. January takes its name from Janus, the two-faced god who looks both backwards and forwards—the god of entrances and doors. So, the custom of looking both backwards and forwards through resolutions dates from around 153 BC. Besides its pagan origins, New Year’s resolutions are, frequently enough, a pretty Pelagian attempt to remake our own lives by our own wits and resources, through sheer grit or will power.

Yet, there are decided spiritual resources to help us look backwards and forwards and make resolutions. One comes from TS Eliot who, in his poem, “Little Gidding,” remarks: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice, and to make an end is to make a beginning.”  Resolutions are about making an end to some bad habits or practices and forging a beginning for some more helpful or useful or spiritual practices.

GK  Chesterton echoes this theme: “The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose, new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man make New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts fresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.”

The main problem with most New Year’s resolutions is that they are not informed enough by the kind of spirituality which should drive the daily tasks of conversion, moulding my life more in keeping with my deepest desires. But since New Year does present one obvious moment for such stock- taking, why not take the occasion of a new year to engage truly in the spiritual practice of discernment?

Below are verses that will encourage those trying to resolve to be different this year. And may God bless such earnest and sincere efforts!

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. – america / christianpost

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