Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

MAY ALL MY readers have a happy new year! No matter what the year holds for you, may you still find blessedness.

While the idea of making New Year's resolutions — setting goals for improvement — is commendable, I haven't made any in years. Even though these resolutions may be admirable, without support, the cares of world cause my resolutions to be soon forgotten.

One problem is that resolutions tend to be personal and vague. A goal needs to be objective, and must include an objective plan to reach that goal. And when you set a specific goal, it helps if other people will support you in that goal. You also have to ask yourself why a specific goal desirable, and how important is it compared to the other things in your life. How much strength of will do you have to accomplish a particular goal?

Western civilization has spent centuries trying to forget the lessons of the past, and great truths have been reduced to vague popular customs which are at risk of being swept away by the darkness and chaos of the world.

When I became Catholic, I learned a few things related to the making of resolutions. A resolution is an act of the will, and the will is informed by your conscience, which in turn is formed and influenced by your passions (from below) and your intellect (from above). For example, your passions tell you that you must eat — eating is a good thing needed to live a flourishing life — while your intellect tells you that overeating is bad for your health and many other factors. A well-formed conscience will find the right balance between the passions and intellect, without falling into the deadly traps of vice (overeating for example) or scrupulosity (such as having great anxiety over eating anything at all).

So if you want to successfully follow through with your resolutions, you must have a well-formed conscience, and act on that conscience accordingly. Key to this is having a regular examination of conscience, and this examination must be made in light of objective standards. This formation of conscience is very much easier to do for Catholics, for this is a topic that the Church has investigated thoroughly for millennia. Many specific examinations can be found on Google.

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