Every year, many of us make New Year’s resolutions — a “New Year – New Me” ritual.
But are we doomed to fail? It’s not that our resolutions are necessarily bad or unreasonable, but that we might be biting off too much at once. When we make a New Year’s resolution, we unconsciously take on the idea that we’re doing this for a whole year or for the rest of our lives. And, seeming so large and untenable, we give up. The season of Lent is for us a little more manageable — just hang on for a few more weeks, and we got this.
If this is not working, perhaps we need a new approach, or rather, an old approach: a daily Examination of Conscience. It is an ancient monastic and religious tradition to do an Examination of Conscience, not just at Mass, or before Confession, but at the end of the day, at the last hour of prayer (this prayer often called “Compline” or “Night Prayer”). What better time to be conscious of what we need to work on than at the day of the day, when our sins and errors are still fresh? Then, we have a relatively simple spiritual “To Do” list: forgive the person that I need to forgive…again; make a note to be more patient with my coworker; do an extra act of charity; etc.
One day at a time – that’s how we fight battles, and that’s how we win the war for our better selves, with God’s grace.