By Fr Joshan Rodrigues –
Here’s one of my favourite stories that will give you a hint of what I’m trying to get at.
A boy asked his father, “Dad, if three frogs were sitting on a branch that hangs over a pool, and one frog decided to jump off into the pool, how many frogs would be left on the branch?”
The dad replied, “Two.”
“No,” the son replied. “Here is the question again: There are three frogs and one decided to jump, how many are left?”
The dad said, “Oh, I get the point! If one decided to jump, the others would too. So there are none left.”
The boy said, “No dad, the answer is three. The frog only DECIDED to jump.”
Doesn’t this sound so much like when we make our New Year’s resolutions? We decide many things but how much have we managed to achieve at the end of the year? But today we are facing an even greater pessimism. Many people approach the confessional, for example, and begin by saying, “Father, I’ve committed the same sins as I confessed last time. It’s the same things every time. I don’t even know what’s the point of confessing them because I know I’ll go out and do it again.” The penitent has lost the battle even before it’s begun. He has lost hope that he can ever do better.
Something similar is happening today with regards to New Year’s resolutions. In the past, people would at least seriously make a few, even if they didn’t succeed in keeping many of them eventually. But now I see many saying, “Oh what’s the point anyway?” New Year’s resolutions have become the butt of jokes and memes galore. People believe more in their power to fail, than in their power to try. This is the stark pessimism that I’m talking about. The consequence is alarming: We will live our life as it comes along. We will begin to slowly accept our flaws as normal, or not flaws at all. “Everyone’s doing it. So many people are like that. Well, one can’t have everything. No one is perfect”…and the list of excuses goes on. Of course, some people believe that there is no need to wait for January 1 in order to make a fresh start, and I agree. But that’s not the point here. The point is to begin.
I want to suggest a few new beginnings that you could adopt for the New Year:
- Seek God in all things: Mt 6:33 says “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” Go beyond just being a feel-good Sunday Catholic. Some of you may be active in parish life. Ask yourself, how much do I really know about my faith? Many surveys have shown world-over that even the most devout Catholics can’t answer basic questions about their faith. Keep at least an hour aside each week to read about Catholicism. Get a good book online or from your nearest Catholic bookstore. Or visit Catholic sites like Aleteia and Indian Catholic Matters.
- Begin Family Prayer at home: If yours is a family especially with children and you have no family prayer at home, then something is seriously amiss. Setting aside 15 minutes before dinner will not take away anything from your life, on the contrary it will enrich everything in ways that you cannot even fathom. Pray the rosary (or at least a decade), read a passage from the New Testament and read the life of a Saint. There are lots of resources online to help you. You could also ask your parish priest for the best prayer method for your family.
- Start working on your dream: If you have a special interest or talent or project that you’ve always wanted to work on, begin today. It may not be part of the job that you do, because we do not always work in fields we are passionate about. Don’t wait for a day or time when you will be more free with time on your hands. That day will never come. Don’t worry about failing in the beginning or not being perfect. Perfection is never achieved unless you have gone through failure.
- Have reunions: I do a lot of reading and study on online/social media relationships. The fact is that we keep in touch with most people today through our cellphones. We have no time to meet in person. Have a look at your chat list and you will see its probably been years since you met some of them. So this year, chuck away those texting apps and organise reunions to meet in person: those long lost school friends, college friends, ex-colleagues from your previous employment, long lost relatives and cousins…the list can go on. There is no greater joy than meeting in person and bringing back old memories. This way you also have more pictures to upload on Facebook and Instagram.
- Go on a Date: Husbands and Wives, it may be many years into your marriage, but you need that alone time to rekindle the magic and remember when you first fell in love. Do make it a point to go out at least once in two months, just the two of you. Go for a movie, a romantic dinner, just take a long walk, or go for a long drive, or go get a relaxing foot massage together! And leave the kids at home.
- Watch your waistline: Lol…the diet has to make every new year’s resolutions list! Lots of diets out there. But I recommend that you follow Fr Joshan’s diet! It’s simple: eat whatever you want, but cut down your portions to half your regular serving. And secondly, try walking everywhere. Remember, your Body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and if you eat well, you will feel more energy and be more spiritually and mentally alert.
- Travel and Discover your city: It’s a given that most of us haven’t seen or visited some places of interest in our own city. And I’m not talking about the malls or eateries here. I’ve often been embarrassed when guests from out of town have visited some cultural or historical places in Mumbai which I never have inspite of having lived there all my life. So if you don’t know what to do during all those weekends during the year, scout out some genuine places of interest in your city online and take the whole family.
The Church begins the New Year by venerating Mary, the Mother of God. Let us ask her heavenly intercession to grow in holiness, family life and to help us grow as individuals in 2018.
Fr Joshan Rodrigues is from the Archdiocese of Bombay, India. He is currently studying Institutional and Church Communications at the Pontifical Holy Cross University in Rome. Travelling, reading and social media are his passions. His drive is to make Church teaching more accessible to younger audiences and he holds G.K. Chesterton, Bishop Robert Barron and the Venerable Fulton Sheen among his role models for this task. He analyses different aspects of daily Christian life and culture through catholic lenses in his blog, Musings in Catholic Land.