I have frequently started a new year with the intention of getting more physical exercise. It was at the point when someone informed me that walking from the couch to the refrigerator on New Year’s Day did not count as exercise that I abandoned that endeavor completely. This year I’ll have to see if I can devise another plan of action to get in better physical shape. I am guessing that rolling over from my right side to the left side while I am in bed won’t count either.
On a serious note, I appreciate the opportunity that the New Year brings in regard to setting serious goals. This is especially relevant in regard to spiritual undertakings. What will I set out to do to grow in virtue through my prayer, study, and action in 2014?
My prayer life can always use an extra dose of faithful discipline. “Pray without ceasing.” Okay. I have a long way to go yet. What will I do to more effectively open myself to God’s grace through my life of prayer? What steps will be necessary for me to be more faithful and fervent? One thing is certain. I can become discouraged by the lack of fortitude in the past or I can once again seek out the power of the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen me in my renewed endeavors. I think I will go with the second option. I know the changes I need to make in my daily habits to create a better opportunity for faithfulness on my part; I will have to trust God’s grace for the other part of the equation.
I enjoy studying and learning about the faith. I am required to do a significant amount of studying to prepare for preaching and teaching. However, I would like to spend more time in study as a component of my prayer and meditation. My experience with this has been very beneficial in the past, but I make time for it too infrequently. Study conducted as a prayerful pursuit can reap wonderful insights and instill some faith-filled resolutions. This bears fruit in abundance for a greater depth of wisdom and understanding as differentiated from a simple academic and intellectual pursuit. This will have to be specifically placed on my list.
Action can be looked at from a multitude of directions. How will I effectively put my faith into action on a daily basis? The responsibilities of my position as the Director of Pastoral Ministries certainly lends itself to creating opportunities for action, but this year I want to focus specifically on putting forth effort in both charity and justice. I want to offer support to alleviate immediate concerns in a spirit of charity while not forgetting the systemic problems inherent in some of our structures and policies that need to be addressed to promote justice. What are the opportunities for me to be generous in charity and effective in my advocacy for justice? This will require further reflection throughout the year as issues arise.
Looking back over my personal calendar for 2013 fills me with a deep sense of gratitude. God certainly blessed my life and ministry over these last 12 months. I had the opportunity to preach at the weekend Masses in 10 different parishes over the course of the year. I conducted 17 catechetical workshops, led Days of Recollection for seven different groups, and gave two parish missions which consisted of preaching at the weekend Masses and having three evenings of presentations and prayer. The other day-to-day responsibilities like organizing pro-life events, promoting opportunities such as Marriage Encounter, supporting our Catholic schools in a variety of ways, and a whole list of other activities simply adds to the sense of gratitude. It has been a fruitful year in ministry.
Looking at my calendar for 2014 fills me with great anticipation and excitement. It is a wonderful privilege to minister in a wide variety of settings and parishes, and I have quite a few different events already scheduled. I will be leading a three night parish mission in Green River in February, preaching at three different parishes in March and April, and finally, conducting several different workshops on catechesis and the proclamation of God’s Sacred Word.
It is also fun to look ahead quite a few months down the road. In August I will be leading the Wyoming Catholic Men’s Retreat. That will be a fantastic weekend and I am sincerely grateful for the invitation to facilitate such an awesome event. http://catholicmensretreat.org/deacon-vernon-dobelmann
What is my New Year’s Resolution? After reflecting upon last year and looking ahead to the next, it is clear that the number one priority is to live my life in a spirit of gratitude. God has blessed me abundantly. May I never forget that or take it for granted! If I can accomplish this one resolution, the others will fall into place.
Happy New Year!