“A good way to start the New Year is to ask how you can be different than you are now."
Bishop Fulton Sheen said this in a speech on December 31, 1944. His suggestion is symbolic of the essence of many New Year’s resolutions. It is timeless, meaningful, and explains what we all hope for in any new year. In 1944 the world was at war on two fronts. The outcome was uncertain, and millions of Americans turned to God for help.
Fast forward to 2020. The year ended with American at war on two fronts. There was a war on COVID 19 and a Political War. Eventually, both will be settled but there was a tension in the air at the cost of this settlement and the duration of the suffering that would take place.
Bishop Sheen in his talk gave us some answers on these very problems, “Who Can Re-Make You?”, when he explained, “We were like a clock whose mainspring was broken. We have the ‘works’ but we do not ‘go’. Man cannot redeem himself any more than the clock can fix itself. If a man is ever to be redeemed, redemption must: 1) Come from without human nature, and 2) be done from within.” Sheen continued, “human nature has contracted a bigger debt than it can pay. In sinning against God we piled up an infinite debt, and we have not enough balance of merits in our finite bank to meet the burden. …Evil is too deep-seated in the world to be righted by a little kindness or reason or tolerance.”
In essence, our clocks are broken and we are trying to fix the mainspring. Unlike a digital clock where we have no mainspring- each human has a soul that requires constant feeding and nourishment. The society that fails to do this will fail and fall. Societies and people must change in order to renew themselves. Just like a good football coach may give an inspirational speech before the game or at halftime that will change the outcome of the game, we need to seek a conversation with our coach- God to help us during this New Year.
Bishop Fulton Sheen explained that, “Time is equivalent to what can be done or gained by it. At the beginning of the new year, therefore, we wish that it be happy because we know that there is no greater melancholy or sadness than to use the time for any purpose but the supreme one, which is the salvation of the soul.
So at the beginning of 2021 let us turn our attention back to the Lord and look seriously at these things to do in our spiritual life. We need to resolve to turn our lives back to God. We are suffering not because we are going to Church and getting sick, we are getting sick because we are not going to Church. In an era that tries to shut down or lockdown Churches claiming that they are dangerous to our health, I would like to remind you of three quotes from GK Chesterton.
"At least five times, with the Arian and the Albigensian, with the Humanist skeptic, after Voltaire and after Darwin, the Christian Faith has to all appearance, gone to the dogs? But, in each of these five cases, it was the dog that died.
"There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions."
"Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried."
Clearly, in our new year 2021, we should turn our attention to the Lord and to begin to focus on the Sacraments and our prayer life. Together we can change our society only when we change ourselves.