Definition: resolution n. 1) a firm decision to do or not to do something; 2) the quality of being determined or resolute.
It is this final definition that resonates with me, especially that word ‘resolute’, for it carries with it the added emphasis of being unwavering, unflinching, moving with a purpose.
By now you’re probably thinking that I’m advocating that we all make resolutions for the new year.
Your conclusion would be half-true.
What are the most pledged resolutions in the world around us each January 1st? Top three are: 1) exercise more; 2) lose weight; 3) save more money.
What is the focus of these resolutions? 1) I want to feel better; 2) I want to look better; 3) I want to feel more secure. In short, the focus is me. The focus is selfish. You have to venture outside the top 10 (number 11 on the Yahoo list for 2021) to find a resolution that relates to others: volunteering more. And this one accounted for only 10% of all such resolutions.
The person writing the article said this: These resolutions are not compulsive (ed: I’m sure he/she meant compulsory); they are more like a signal for a new start than an actual catalyst for change.” In short, forget the initial focus on being resolute! We’re making promises to ourselves knowingly to break them, just to make us feel good about ourselves. Once again, SELF.
“But Father, why beat us up about resolutions? I don’t believe in them anyhow.”
Please remember that we earlier said your conclusion was ‘half true’. Here’s that other half.
As faithful Orthodox Christians, we approach the sacrament of repentance with contrition, with in-depth self-examination, with remorse, and with a sincere desire to change the person we’ve allowed ourselves to become, to change into a person who cannot of his own ability achieve perfection, but who through his or her struggles with stubborn self-will seeks to become more aligned with the perfection to which or Lord calls us—to become with each passing day more and more like the God we worship. With every breath, to attempt to achieve Theosis.
If we approach the sacrament of Confession with an attitude that we’re in some fashion “taking of the garment and sending it in for cleaning,” we’re missing the point. Rather, we’re attempting to cleanse the garment, and then not venture into those places or situations in which we dirtied the garment in the first place.
St. Mark the Ascetic said, If someone falls into any sin and is not sincerely grieved by it, it is easy for him to fall into the same thing again. And again, from St. Isaac the Syrian, It is a spiritual gift from God for a man to perceive his sins. When God sees that we suffer grievously in multifarious trials, this gift penetrates into our thought, lest we should depart from life in the midst of all these calamities and afflictions, having reaped no profit from this world.
The Christian way, the Orthodox way, is not to make resolutions which we intend to renounce immediately upon uttering them. The Orthodox way it to come in tears and in trembling before God, bringing our sins as an offering to Him, that He might bless us with the grace to resist repeating those sins from this time forward. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me...A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. (Ps 51:10,17)
The One Who waits to hear our ‘resolutions’ is One Who loves us, and Who wants us to succeed, and not to turn back from being resolute because that is easier. He’s there to comfort, to strengthen, and to forgive all we bring before Him.
Zacchaeus Sunday is 4 weeks from today. Spring cleaning time is at hand. Let us pray for one another.