First off, HAPPY NEW YEAR! *insert magical confetti falling all around*
It is now 2015, and that of course means that people around the world are making resolutions for this new year. From eating habits to work out habits to crossing things off the bucket list, people make all kinds of resolutions to improve their lives. More often than not, these resolutions are given up on within a month, if not a week. Too few of us have the determination and endurance to keep resolute for any extended amount of time.
After taking a practical morality class this past semester, it’s an especially beautiful thing for me to see people at least try to make some sort of effort to form good habits. Good habits are called virtues and bad habits are called vices. Virtue builds us up, and vice tears us down.
Unfortunately, most of us fall into vice instead of resolutely choosing virtue. To make a habit of vice is easier (especially in today’s society) than to make a habit of virtue.
But here’s the thing: we want the good habits. We want the good so much that it hurts and it can hurt to choose the good, both the choice itself and the consequences of that choice. The alternative is evasion of this hurt in making a different (and ultimately more painful) choice. Choosing a false or lower good rather than striving towards the true and higher good is sadly the common response.
I think a lot of people (myself included) make New Year’s Resolutions to comfort ourselves that we at the very least thought about choosing good habits. However, how many of us actually make resolutions to improve and grow in the life of moral habits or virtues? After all, we are called by Christ and His Church to holiness. Do we apply this call to the resolutions that we abandon before February? Or do we know that if we did that, we’d have to endure and persevere in our resolution? Would we be less likely to abandon our new year’s resolutions if we resolved to be kinder than if we resolved to eat healthier? Or would we be more likely because resolutions of virtue are more difficult?
I am not sure I know the answers to those questions.
What I do know is this: sometimes our resolutions are not realistic.
Sometimes we want too much from ourselves all at once. We recognize how much we need and want to improve, and we try to accomplish sainthood in a day.
I think a lot of us would do better and be more resolute in our resolutions if we did what serious runners do: pace ourselves.
The life of virtue is arduous. It is entirely possible. You can pursue it. But we all need to be able to evaluate ourselves realistically and set goals that are attainable at the pace we are able to maintain.
I think I have a realistic resolution for everyone at the beginning of this year. And it is this:
Sursum Cor, Prorsus Oculos.
Translated from Latin this says: Heart up, eyes forward. This is a phrase I strung together last summer after some reflection on Jesus’ Ascent into Heaven and the words of the Mass.
During the Mass, the priest says: “Lift up your hearts.” In the Latin it is: “Sursum Corda.” A more literal translation would be: “Hearts up.” We are called – during the Mass – to offer up our hearts to God. Do we really do this?
After Jesus ascended into Heaven, what did the apostles do? They stood around staring at the sky. Some angels had to tell them to leave. I feel like this is sort of a face palm moment for the apostles. They know that the Holy Spirit will soon come to them. Instead of setting off to prepare their hearts for the descent of the Holy Spirit they stand and gape open-mouthed at the sky. (Acts 1:6-11)
The apostles eyes were on the sky, not in front of them. They were too worried about what was to come (the restoration of the Kingdom) instead of their current mission on earth.
I do not want to refuse God the offering of my heart. I do not want to lose sight of my mission. To prevent these things from happening I will repeat over and over and over again: sursum cor, prorsus oculos. Heart up, eyes forward. I want to offer my heart up to God daily while daily keeping my eyes focused on my God-given mission: the salvation of souls and the glorification of God.
This is not a New Year’s resolution. This is my every day resolution. Sursum cor, prorsus oculos is the resolution I hope to keep resolute. I think it’s a realistic resolution for me and for you. I hope you will take up this resolution with me.
May God bless you on your way!