by Fr Richard Heilman | December 29, 2015 10:57 AM
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
I’m not sure about other cultures, but in America it has been a long standing tradition to make “New Year’s Resolutions.” There are so many reasons why I like this.
First, we are “past the holidays,” when it seems we pour ourselves into the preparations and the feasting. I know not all people are alike, but it seems most, like myself, find that time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s to be a very sentimental time, and we give *our all* to the celebrations. Hence, it becomes very difficult to focus attention, energy and time to personal development, especially in the area of physical fitness. We Americans tend to put this on hold until we are past the festivities. And, it seems most are raring to go after over a month of this holding pattern.
Second, it feels like “crunch time” as we get closer to warmer weather and more physical activities. Some, who can become embarrassed by those extra pounds, know that the layered clothing won’t do the hiding for too much longer. Better get at it now, or there won’t be enough time to shed those extra pounds, some say to themselves.
Third, as Catholics, we know that Lent is approaching quickly. Lent is an important time to enter more deeply into personal development. So, one can either use this time between New Year’s and Ash Wednesday to examine their lives and “make a plan.” Or, they may want to use this time to do some preliminary personal development, with the mind to go full speed during Lent. And some may simply say to themselves, “40 days just isn’t enough … I’ll get a good kick-start by dedicating myself, beginning January 1.
Fourth, again, as Catholics, we are celebrating a major Marian Feast on January 1, as it is Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. When we speak about “personal development,” we are, in essence, speaking about a “purification” of sorts. We are expelling or eradicating bad habits, and replacing them with good habits. These bad habits are the devil’s way of keeping us from reaching our full potential. God has gifted us with Mary, who crushes the head of the serpent. What better way to launch our “Day 1” of personal improvement than by calling upon Mary on a day we celebrate one of her major feasts?
I like football, so I am using the football analogy, so feel free to apply this analogy to your favorite sport …
You are on the team, and not some “everybody gets a trophy” team, but a championship team … The Roman Catholic Church. Ask yourself, “Why am I on the bench? What is it about me that keeps me from being the player the coach is confident to be one of his starters?” So, in other words, what are my weaknesses right now? Is it bad habits? Lack of energy? Weight issues? Health issues? Poor prayer life? Nit picking with the spouse? Potty mouth? … you get the picture. So, let’s spend this time being honest with ourselves and God, and decide what we need to work on.
Here is a great examination of conscience (HERE). Spend some quality time with it, and write them down (or type them in your computer). Decide this (or these) are what is keeping the coach from putting me in the game … calling me to His missions.
Personally, among other things, I need to work on my health. Not too long ago, I discovered I have several food allergies. Since I did not know this for a lifetime, I only knew the reaction eating had for me. I would get drowsy, nauseous and my head would cloud. Since I could not be an effective priest with those effects from eating, I trained myself to withhold eating until my duties were complete … I fasted all day, every day. So, on most days I would have a feast just before bed. Of course this does bad things to your body, and it causes one to gain weight, and I did. I have received some great help with this, and I am working on it. And, as is usually the case, I put this on hold during the holiday season. I am resolved to become fully dedicated to this area of personal improvement in my life. My siblings got me a FitBit Surge watch for Christmas … very cool! I will be doing weight training 3 times a week and walking every day. I am also seeking help with nutrition.
I am also very enthused about deepening my spiritual life and my call to discipleship. This promises to be an amazing time to work on personal development. I am starting NOW … I am reflecting on my weaknesses and “making a plan,” and I am entering fully into this training on January 1. Will you join me?
It is very difficult to do these things alone. That is why I have spent a great deal of time developing a way we can all do this together, without needing to spend time with multiple meetings, etc. that can be too much for so many who have many demands already in their lives.
This is why I have developed the “54 Day Basic Training in Holiness.” During this year of extraordinary graces – Year of Mercy – we will engage this training during Lent, 2016. The training will go for 54 days. Amazingly, it is exactly 54 days from Ash Wednesday to Divine Mercy Sunday, in the Year of Mercy!
Each day, trainees will be provided with a 1-2 minute reflection on the qualities of excellence. The first 27 days, trainees will read from passages in scripture, quotes from saints and the catechism on one of the following: Theological Virtues, Cardinal Virtues, Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. The second 27 days will be excerpts from the book I wrote entitled, Church Militant Field Manual: Special Forces Training for the Life in Christ. We will also ask each trainee to pray a rosary a day, as we offer our prayers together in the very powerful 54 Day Rosary Novena. You can read more about it HERE.
Order your training book HERE.
Also, you can join the Special Forces Training Facebook group, to receive the reflections each day. This group will also receive reflections from experts on health and fitness. Sign up HERE.
Other optional training tools can be found HERE.
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