By Barb Arland-Fye
Pope Francis didn’t call them New Year resolutions, but the 10 things he asked Vatican employees to do when he met with them before Christmas comprise a great template for life. Cindy Wooden shared the list Jan. 1 on the Catholic News Service Blog. Someone posted the list to Facebook, where I first read it and reflected on how to make it my list for 2015 and beyond.
First: “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.” For me, that means striving to be more attentive and present to God in prayer and liturgy. Too often the distractions of life, internal and external, interfere with my relationship with God.
Second: “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention and love.” Having just given a cash gift to my younger son for Christmas, I feel guilty as charged! I need to make time for both of my sons and my husband when they need me and not when it’s most convenient for me.
Third: “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.” Opportunities to put words into good works abound; the challenge is choosing how and when to share my time.
Fourth: “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity and worldly decadence.” When I was a child, my dad cautioned me to think before I speak to avoid saying something hurtful or mean-spirited. Becoming more aware of the root causes of frustration and anxiety would go a long way toward helping me to be careful in how I speak.
Fifth: “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.” I love the imagery of this observation on forgiveness. I tend to dwell on small hurts rather than medicating them with forgiveness. On the other hand, I don’t often think about the things I’ve done to hurt others. Concentrating on the words of the Lord’s Prayer reminds me to seek forgiveness for my trespasses and graciously forgive others for theirs.
Sixth: “Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.” Working for The Catholic Messenger brings me great joy. I strive to thank the Lord for the blessings I receive through the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Seventh: “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.” We live in a competitive world that covets success and victory. I, too, get caught up in competition. Changing that attitude is a work in progress.
Eighth: “Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance; for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; for pointing the finger at others, which leads to pride; and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation.” I just read an article that caused me to think about how we tend to make villains out of others, to condemn others’ faults without considering our own culpability. I hope to work at being less judgmental this year.
Ninth: “Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker … the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.” I think of my older son, who has autism and needs all of us to be more patient with him. I think of friends in the nursing home who I need to make time to visit.
Tenth: “Make sure your Christmas is about Jesus and not shopping.” I’m working on it!
Thank you, Holy Father, for helping me to deepen awareness of what it means to live a life of faith.