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Franciscan Spirit Blog

Sacramental Do-Over

Jan 14, 2020
Sacramental Do-Over

We are two weeks into the new year—a good time to take stock on our resolutions. Each year we promise to do things to improve our health, our lives, our relationships, etc. The gyms are packed, houses are organized, and grocery shopping takes on a new, healthier perspective—at least for a while.

I know personally I begin the year with a laundry list of things I’m going to do—or not do—in the upcoming year: exercise more, eat better, pray more, or schedule more family time. And then life happens. One missed workout quickly becomes two missed workouts. Kids’ activities and lack of time throw us back into the routine of quick, easy, and less-than-nutritious meals. And so the unraveling of New Year’s promises begins.

But all too often, instead of picking ourselves up and starting over, we grab a bowl of ice cream, curl up on the couch, watch a bad movie, and chalk it all up to one more year of resolution failures. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. What is it that stops us from picking up where we left off? Why not start anew on our resolutions when we fail to carry them out? And why is January always the starting line? I get it that it’s the first month of a new year, but can’t any month—or even any day—be the start of a new journey?

A New Perspective

I first started thinking about this yearly dance a few months ago, when I was sitting at the information session for my daughter Riley’s first Reconciliation ceremony. I politely listened as our pastor detailed the process, the requirements, the game plan. Having two older kids who have already received the sacrament, I must confess that I started to zone out a bit.

But then he said something that struck me. I don’t know why it did.What he said wasn’t anything groundbreaking or that I didn’t already know. He spoke about how he explained to the kids that only through this sacrament, when we confess our sins and perform penance for them, do we basically get a “do-over” from God. That is, of course, if we’re open to it. Wow! I was raised Catholic. I am Catholic. How was this never before so crystal clear to me?

Then I started wondering why I didn’t take advantage of this opportunity more often. I mean, who of us couldn’t use his or her fair share of “do-overs”? So why was I walking around beating myself up with guilt and regret when I could wipe the slate clean through confession?

As I work on my resolutions, I need a very different mindset. I move forward with the realization that if I falter, I can pick myself up and start again—at any time. I will also move forward, knowing that my faith gives me a perfect example of how to do it. Oh, and participating in the gift of Reconciliation more in the new year has definitely made its way onto my New Year’s resolution list.

Five Tips for Making and Keeping Resolutions

Start small. Even the first step to making any change is important. Celebrate that step.

Think positive. We often think of things to quit or things to change about ourselves when we come up with our resolutions. Try to adopt some positive resolutions, such as writing down one positive thing a day or paying one compliment to yourself or someone else each day.

Don’t give up. If you struggle with keeping your resolution, don’t just quit. Take a step back and try again.

Be realistic. Odds are you’re not going to be able to do everything that you wish you could in one year. So when you’re creating your resolutions, keep in mind what you feel that you can realistically achieve. Are you really going to be able to work out five days a week, lose 25 pounds, and write that novel you’ve been wanting to—all in one year? Probably not. Choose wisely and increase your chance for success.

Be kind to yourself. If you achieve your goals, celebrate. If you don’t, go easy on yourself. It’s a process.

Move ahead. Start a new goal or continue working on the one you haven’t achieved quite yet.

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