I was so disappointed in myself on January second! I wanted to wake up the day after New Years to see the “new me.”
Mirror, mirror on the wall, where is the new revised edition of Leona I counted on when I made my New Year’s resolutions?
It didn’t take long to realize that I'm still the same weak person I was before I carefully formulated and earnestly prayed about and wrote down my resolutions for the New Year. I had such sincere intentions and a firm commitment to discipline myself, turn over a new leaf, and finally become the “ideal” Christian woman and the perfect holy person I wanted to become. Instantly! Overnight! As soon as the ball dropped at midnight in Times square. This year was going to be a grand new beginning—a milestone.
What happened to me? I feel like the disappointed Super-Saint Paul, who wrote in Romans chapter seven, “Wretched man [woman] that I am! That which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate….the good I wish, I do not; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish….” I would have thought Saint Paul didn’t have such struggles any longer, seasoned and experienced saint that he had become.
Oh, Paul, I know exactly what you mean! Although it apparently only took a split second for you to make your great turnaround from persecuting Christians to enthusiastically evangelizing and founding new churches throughout the known world. But even after logging years of instructing new believers in the power of the Holy Spirit, did you really still feel a struggle between your two natures? Even after God used you to write the lion’s share of the New Testament, did you still confess that you had the same problem I have not being able to do what I want to do to please God?
Role model that you are, you nevertheless admitted, “Not that I have already attained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 4: 12,13).
How thankful I am that God is a God of new beginnings! How thankful I am for the Sacrament of Reconciliation! I can pick myself up after falling short, after omissions and commissions, and I can start again, fresh and clean each time.
HOW THANKFUL I AM FOR LENT, the forty days of voluntary discipline before the celebration of Easter—a time of significant and continual new beginnings! I really need it. I’m so glad it begins early this year. I don’t have to stage a pity party over my failures. Without guilt, I can dust off my recent lapsed New Year’s resolutions, and realistically evaluate and refine them.
Each day from Ash Wednesday through Easter I can begin anew depending on the power of the Holy Spirit to help me. Jesus knows our human natures and weaknesses despite our being new creations in Him. Jesus thought of everything when He established His Church and His Sacraments.
THREE CHEERS FOR LENT!