by Anne Hansen
What resolutions are at the top of your mind for 2016? Will the list include less food and more exercise, dedicated time for quiet prayer each day, a healthier balance of family life with work, or, will the focus be on more mundane things like making the bed every morning and cleaning up the kitchen each night?
Whatever the decision there is a good chance, according to the Washington Post (January 1, 2016) that only 8% of Americans will actually stick with their resolutions. And, if you’re moving toward or have achieved senior status, as have most IVC volunteers, the chance of resolutions being kept is even lower due to the fact that with age we tend to become set in our ways and resist change.
Maybe a new approach is in order. Instead of the declaration of intended change in New Year’s resolutions (often falling by the wayside) perhaps quiet, subtle consideration of ideas – familiar and new – would be helpful. This approach has the potential to affect the heart and soul organically leading to change.
In December my parish introduced the Advent Conspiracy, an international movement to bring deeper meaning to Christmas by avoiding excess consumerism. The tenets of the movement are simple: spend less, give more, worship fully and love all. At first glance these seemed obvious and then quite ambitious, however, after seeing them in print and hearing them a number of times they began to sink in and subtly influenced my gift shopping and interaction with others in a positive way. It was not a conscious effort but spending time with the ideas of spending less, giving more, worshipping fully and loving all made a difference that brought a sense of peace to my life which ironically would have been (and is) my top resolution and hope for 2016.
Paying attention to the Jubilee Year of Mercy certainly can have a similar effect. It’s not even necessary to read the entire letter from Pope Francis – just being aware that mercy is a priority makes a difference. Midway through the document Pope Francis writes, “This is the opportune moment to change our lives! This is the time to allow our hearts to be touched!” Taking these words as a point of reference for living in 2016 has the potential to change relationships with others and with ourselves. A moment to change our lives can mean movement toward healing a fractured family or a broken body. It can also translate into actions such as joining a movement for gun safety and control, prison reform or working to ease the lives of refugees and immigrants.
And finally, for those of us who want concrete examples of things to incorporate into life in this New Year there are numerous lists all over the Internet based on words of Pope Francis that will inspire.
Enjoy and Happy 2016!
Anne Hansen is Regional Director for IVC Los Angeles and has written a column for the Tidings newspaper for many years (nearly 20)—Family Time. She co-authored Culture-Sensitive Ministry (Paulist Press, 2010) and offers workshops and retreats throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.