When the new year approached, as most people did, I set my mind on resolutions. Last year was a mess. I took advantage of that mess by retreating. This year I want to do better because. (You can pretty much finish that sentence as you wish.)
The typical resolutions crossed my mind: exercise more – I mean really move, for the sake of my bones, not just yoga, my preferred mode of movement because it’s calm and fluid; write my third children’s novel (a VERY lofty goal); finish Granddaughter’s cross-stitched Christmas stocking (a mildly lofty goal, if “lofty” can be qualified). Is there anything else? Well, these goals are an uninspired list of things to accomplish. There must be something else – something that can move me forward, not just sideways. Something real. A change for me to move me away from my old favorite default behaviors. Dare I aspire to saintliness?
Then the mysterious sign appeared: I read an article. (Imagine angels singing.) The author cited eight spiritual goals for the new year. That’s what I’ve been searching for, or rather, that is that for which I have been searching. (I just can’t let go of English grammar and usage. I want an American English Academy the way the French have their language police, the French Academy. But that’s another post for another day.)
Marian devotion, spiritual reading, good stewardship, sharing faith, penance, extra Mass, and saying the Rosary are seven of the eight suggestions (in a nutshell) that helped me wade through 2020. More like helped me to “push through” 2020. Last year rudely shoved – like people at a Mardi Gras parade fighting over a doubloon – but guidance came from many places to teach me perseverance, to strengthen me enough to push back. But it was the eighth resolution that gave me pause: Find a new saint buddy, a saint whose life you would like to emulate, or one whom you admire but whose intercession you have never sought.
I thought and thought and thought some more. Should I pray about this? Will someone just give me a sign, or do I actively look? So many saints, so little time! The obvious came to mind – St. Jude, patron saint of hopeless causes. Sometimes I feel like a hopeless cause. But he’s probably sick of me by now, I’ve called on him so much in the last year. Not really, he’s a saint. Of hopeless causes. He doesn’t get sick of poor sinners like me. But I’ll give him a rest for a while, even though he never asked that of me. St. Agnes – patron saint of little girls, a girl herself when she was martyred. I feel as though I am the one who should pray for her – like any grandmother would do for an innocent child. St. Lucy – also martyred at a young age, her eyes gouged by her tormentors. I want to protect her, too. Our Lady of Prompt Succor – patron saint of Louisiana. She has saved us so many times, but she is not “new” to me. The venerable St. Joseph – This is his year, you know? The pope has dedicated 2021 to him. St. Joseph is well familiar with me, too. He was a foster father, loving his child, watching his child grow and live and die. The fact that he did not father the child made him no less a father. Maybe I should I call on St. Michael, the Archangel? I seek comfort in living in a chaotic, frightening world full of mean, greedy, wretched people. St. Michael doesn’t put up with people’s foolishness, nor Satan’s.
Among all of the things I seek to improve this year, strength reigns sovereign; that is, the courage to be resolute when I must take a stand, but compromising when acceptance is the best option. Who will help guide me spiritually on my journey to find personal peace without becoming a wet noodle or a doormat? The same woman keeps answering me: St. Anne, the mother of Mary, the grandmother of Jesus. It is my womanly heart that suffers. St. Anne understands what it’s like to wait, to persevere, and to trust. She understands a woman’s worries and longings.
St. Anne is the example I choose to emulate this year. Her strengths are my weaknesses. Her life is an inspiration. Her faith is my example.
Blessings and benedictions to all of you in 2021!