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OLOTA Spiritual Assistant's Monthly Messages - Br. Gerry Clyne O.F.M.

January 2018

The year of 2018 is upon us, and it is the time that people make “new year resolutions”. As we all know, most good-intentioned resolutions often do not last very long. In fact, even by now, we may have already broken some of ours! This has caused some people, in a spirit of despairing resignation, to stop making resolutions altogether. But, having no goals to work for can lead to personal stagnation.

There is, of course, some good advice to help make resolutions more productive:

1. Only make a few resolutions. Making too many can be overwhelming and lead to none being achieved. Choose only one or two – maybe three.

2. Make them obtainable, realistic and incremental. Don’t say, for instance, “I’m going to reduce global warming.” Instead, you may say: “I’m going to reduce my contribution to greenhouse gases by walking to work one day per week for two months. After that I will increase that to two days per week for two months” … etc. Start off small and start off “slow and easy”. If you take on too much all at once you may get discouraged and give up.

3. Be specific. Don’t say “I’m going to be more patient”. Instead perhaps it might be: “With God’s help, I’m going to be more patient with my husband when we go grocery shopping.”

There are different areas of life that you may want to consider to round out your life: your physical health, your spiritual/prayer life (spiritual health), your church life, your social life, your involvement with social justice (JPIC, Justice, Peace & the Integrity of Creation) and your Franciscan life. Most of us probably need improvement in all areas. But, again, choose one or two (3?) that you think might need the most work. Becoming a more balanced person in these few areas will help improve all the other areas of your life.

You may know right away what areas of your life you need to most work on. Perhaps the Holy Spirit has been convicting you for some time about something. Then, again, you may need to take a little time to prayerfully reflect on your choice of resolutions. Take it to prayer.

When you make your choices, prayer about the ways you will realistically implement them. In fact, make your resolutions part of your daily prayer life. In this way, you may stand a better chance of not forgetting about them. And you will feel more “accountable” to God for them. Make your resolutions part of your daily “check in” with yourself and with God. I find charting my progress helps. I record my progress or regression. Then I can reflect on why I am growing or not growing and what I still need to “fine tune” to achieve growth.

Also try to hold the “greater goal” in sight. This is to say; how might these resolutions be for God’s glory and the betterment of others? St. Paul clearly says that in everything we do we should do it for God: “Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord….”(Col. 3:23), “(W)hatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31), “(W)hatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:17). Likewise, get a perspective of how your “personal improvement goals” benefits others. Jesus links serving others and serving God: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these… you did it to me…’ (Mt.25:40), “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me…” (Lk. 9:48). A perspective like this keeps us from becoming too self-centred and encourages us to see ourselves as part of a bigger whole.

Lastly, all this needs to be done in a spirit of discipline, but also in understanding and forgiveness. We need to practice “tough love” on ourselves, being tough, yet also loving. And love always forgives. So, be disciplined but gentle at the same time. Successful in fulfilling our resolutions should never be a condition for whether we love ourselves or not. God loves us unconditionally and so, we are to love ourselves unconditionally because we are to love as God loves: “I give you a new commandment, that you love…. Just as I have loved you…”. (Jn. 13:34) Even the Old Testament Law presumes as healthy self-love: Lev. 19:18, 34. God never puts a condition on His love for us. There is NOTHING, in fact, that we can do or not do that can stop God from loving us. We may reject His love, and therefore deprive ourselves of the benefits of God’s love, but He will never stop loving us. Let us, therefore, invite God into our resolutions so that we may choose them wisely and receive His grace to carry them out.                      Happy New Year, everyone!    Br. Gerry

To access/download pdf copies of Br. Gerry's Monthly Messages for 2015, 2016, & 2017, click on the blue text below.

2017 Monthly Messages

2016 Monthly Messages

2015 Monthly Messages