New Year’s Resolutions: Bl. Cardinal Newman’s Way

Most of us make and break the same New Year’s Resolutions each year:  eat less, exercise more, spend less, get out of debt…….and on and on.  My resolutions, while well-intentioned, often fall away by the end of January.

new year's resolutions

This year, I’ve decided to do things differently.  Instead of putting all the emphasis on my waistline and bank account, I’m attempting resolutions of a more encompassing nature.  In the nursing profession, we use the term “holistic” to refer to caring for our patient as a whole person – emotional, spiritual and physical well-being – not just focusing on their  broken hip or heart attack or diabetes.  I would like to apply the same approach to my New Year’s Resolutions for 2013 and in so doing, care for the needs of my soul as well as my body.

I believe it’s very good to make resolutions, New Year’s or otherwise, in order to better ourselves.  Striving to improve all areas of our life is the result of not accepting complacency and stagnation.  It is not okay to look in the mirror and say: there’s nothing more that I can do; nothing more that I can be.  The “love of Christ urges us on” (2 Cor. 5:14); resolutions help us on the journey.  They help us to look at ourselves honestly and acknowledge where there is room for much needed improvement and they establish goals to achieve them.  However, the goals need to be do-able, not lofty or full of pride and ought to aim at making us better magnifiers of the Lord.

Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman’s September 27, 1856 homily, A Short Road To Perfection, is what I’m using as my guide.  Perfection, according to the Cardinal is “that which has no flaw in it, that which is complete, that which is consistent, that which is sound…..He then is perfect who does the work of the day perfectly, and we need not go beyond this to seek for perfection.  You need not go out of the round (course) of the [average] day.”  Cardinal Newman explains that the road to perfection is “short, not because easy, but because pertinent and intelligible.” 

Here is how to achieve perfection, according to Bl. Cardinal Newman:

10_06_22_JohnHenryNewman” Do not lie in bed beyond the due time of rising; give your first thoughts to God; make a good visit to the Blessed Sacrament; say the Angelus devoutly; eat and drink to God’s glory; say the Rosary well; be recollected; keep out bad thoughts; make your evening meditation well; examine yourself daily; go to bed in good time, and you are already perfect.”

Following his advice will be challenging but the alternative, mediocrity, is not an option.  Our souls yearn for deeper fulfillment and a more vibrant life in Christ and that is the best reason of all to make and keep these resolutions.  So, I’m giving it my best shot, fuelled of course by graces from Heaven and the intercession of the Blessed Cardinal himself.

A very happy and blessed New Year to you and yours!  What are your resolutions?

Link to the Angelus.

Deo Gratias

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24 Responses to New Year’s Resolutions: Bl. Cardinal Newman’s Way

  1. Teresa Rice says:

    Wishing you a blessed and Happy New Year.

  2. dgcree says:

    May your year be blessed and your resolutions fulfilled and as they say in the french “Seignieur, donnes vous la force” (God grant you strength).

  3. lilyboat says:

    That is a great list to keep in my heart. Thank you for posting this.

  4. Great post, and I love the links!

  5. ” Do not lie in bed beyond the due time of rising;” I needed this especially since I have been sleeping in a lot later while on Christmas holidays! Thanks for posting this and Happy New Year!

  6. genericmum says:

    I liked this post a lot; thanks Terry.
    Two out of three of my resolutions are on the Cardinal’s list: get up earlier and say the Rosary devoutly (minimum of two decades on those busy/tired days…) The third is to keep the kitchen spotless at all times – with eleven of us, it can become very messy, very quickly – that might even make me more enthusiastic about cooking 🙂
    The hardest thing will be getting the teenagers to comply – these are resolutions for the whole family.
    Good luck with yours!

    • Thanks, Kathy, and good luck with the kitchen. If you figure out how to pull that one off, please let me know – I could use some tips 🙂 As for the rest of the resolutions and getting everyone to comply – baby steps….

  7. Me says:

    Our family is going to start the Rosary daily and I am going to work on patience. How? By learning to read crochet patterns and making my first project that isn’t a prayer shawl with the same stitch over and over.

  8. ... says:

    Happy New Year! Thank you for being such an inspiring blogger 🙂 Good luck with your resolution- it looks pretty challenging..but worth it!

  9. Pilgrim1966 says:

    We had a letter from our bishop read out in church last Sunday. In it he asked that we each, as families, make some time for prayer together each day. We’ve slipped out of that habit, so it seemed a lovely thing to adopt together as a family, and we’ll be setting aside some time to read the Gospel of the day and say some prayers together.

    • That sounds wonderful. Over Advent, my husband and I re-introduced the Angelus, a prayer that my older 6 children know but we somehow stopped praying it and my youngest 2 didn’t know it. By the time Christmas day arrived, even the youngest 2 knew it by heart. We’re going to keep the Angelus in our list of prayers.

  10. reinkat says:

    Happy New Year!
    I worried when I read Cardinal Newman’s advice to get up early. Then I read the comments on this phrase and worried more. Then I re-read it and it says, exactly: “beyond the due time of rising”. Hmmm. Not a specific time. Just when it is time. 9 a.m. is fine. I strive to do the rest as he listed. It is so much easier to pray at night, or in the wee hours, before going to bed. 🙂
    Thanks for a great post! I resolve to pray “formally” twice daily (at least): late morning and midnight work for me, and I suspect the Lord will be okay with it as well.

  11. reinkat says:

    Oh, yeah: I am a bit embarassed to write this, but I think it needs to be admitted: thanks also for the link to the Angelus. You would think that with 12 years of Catholic school behind me, someone would have mentioned and taught that prayer to me. I knew it had something to do with bells . . .
    and now I know. At the monastery last week, the monks stood and faced the altar when bells rang, but no words were spoken that I could understand (maybe it was Latin?). And now here is your post to enlighten me and bring it all together. I will tell my 3 siblings, also practicing, cradle Catholics.
    Of course, I was in my late 40s before I finally discovered that what the words to Ave Maria meant. My parents didn’t know either. I asked repeatedly as a youngster. It was just mystifyingly foreign and a pretty tune.
    My project for 2013 is figure out what Te Deum is. I have seen those words in print a lot. I think it might be a song, but maybe not.

    I guess you can never assume that everybody understands what might be obvious to others. Especially in traditions that are not as commonly practiced.

  12. Pingback: Words of Wisdom Wednesday: When to Pray with Kids, a Holy Approach to New Year’s Resolutions, and Resolutions for the Swamped | The Catholic Wife

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