My “January 1” is the Confessional Booth

The first week of January 2014 is wrapping up and my social media has been inundated with those New Year “fresh start” posts.  One of the more common ones is “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” Brad Paisley said that – or at least that’s what Pinterest tells me.

Perhaps it’s my inner cynic, but sometimes I just can’t help but roll my eyes. I’m reminded of my time as a student at Florida State. Come January, the moderately-attended gym suddenly became exponentially more populated. Why do these people who were stuffing their faces with Ramen noodles a few weeks ago now feel entitled to this elliptical? How does buying a new calendar completely revamp someone’s daily routine? I stood as a critic, amused by how easily some are persuaded by the “new year, new me” mantra.

But as I take a step further back, I’m disappointed in my complete disregard for the good in these resolutions.

The desire to live a cleaner, healthier lifestyle is good. The desire to use fewer to no curse words is good. The desire to volunteer more often is good. These desires and resolutions reflect a deeper truth: we should always be striving to better ourselves because we are made in God’s image. We are called to greatness and have an immense amount of dignity and should reflect that in how we live our life.

This concept of starting anew is nothing foreign to The Church, most notably in the sacrament of Reconciliation.  Catholics believe that by confessing and taking responsibility for our sins, we open ourselves up “again to God and to the communion of the Church in order to make a new future possible” [#CCC, 1455].

new_year_confessional_booth

You make a new future possible for yourself with a step inside of the confessional booth. What a beautiful truth! With a new year comes great anticipation to reinvent yourself, but your soul is reinvented from being sullied to pure with this Catholic sacrament.  I am not capable of fully comprehending the greatness and mercy involved in this gift.

Resolutions restore our self-regard. They can be an opportunity to fully utilize the talents and abilities God has granted us. We are woven with such dignity and should set out to mirror God’s greatness in every aspect of our life. So, yes, while you may be able to go down a few jean sizes because of your workout classes – you can also use your resolution to exercise more because you want to be the best version of you possible.

I shouldn’t scoff that January pulls the trigger to begin good habits for many people. But one can make resolutions and start anew on August 22 just as well as they can on the first of the year. And Catholics should embrace the gift of Reconciliation and remember their yearning for a fresh start can be reached through this sacrament.

While my online quota of New Year-related phrases has been filled for days now, there is one quote worth sharing by G.K. Chesterton: “The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year, but rather that we should have a new soul.”

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