I had meant to send this out a few weeks ago but was simply too busy with writing other things to get it finished. And this in a nutshell is what the #1 item on my list for 2012 involves: time. Over the past six weeks I’ve learned that our loved ones, specifically children, need our time no matter what their ages be they four, eight or sixteen. It’s true that the younger ones are easier to dedicate time to because they are more apt to snuggle up with you and their pink blanket or smother you with unlimited hugs and kisses while the teenagers will roll their eyes and sigh a lot. Nevertheless time is what they want from you and it is what they all deserve. In 2012 I hope to spend more of that time with my oldest child but also with the others in my life who love me enough to desire the same.
Here’s my list of goals for a 2012:
- Make a morning offering each day. Simply kneeling down each morning to offer up the day ahead for God’s glory. This simple act will set the tone for my ability to have the energy to live out the following goals.
- Set aside time for at least 15 minutes of silent daily prayer. A little “one-on-one” fact time with God, whether at home or in church before the Blessed Sacrament.
- Get in at least 15 minutes of spiritual reading each day. Time spent in Scripture as well as any of the dozens of spiritual classics that I own. I bought a new commentary on The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis that I plan to read, as well as a few on Ignatian spirituality.
- Attend Holy Mass at least once per week and receive Holy Communion in the state of grace. I already do this, but my goal is to walk to St. Mary’s from my office at least once a week to attend Mass at noon.
- Pray the Angelus or Regina Coeli prayer each day at noon.
- Pray the Holy Rosary each day. Why? I’ll let Lynne, one of the Catholic Sistas, tell you. She does a fantastic job in Of P90X and the Holy Rosary. You really must read it.
- Make a brief examination of conscience each night before bed. An excellent bookend to the Morning Offering in order to close the day with an attitude of gratitude and of responsibility for actions taken.
These first seven are items I took from a list written by Fr. John McCloskey. To it I will add going to confession once a month. But you said you wanted to spend more time with your kids, Jeff. How can you do that by adding all of these things each day? Well, if you add all of them up (except for the weekly Holy Mass) they will take a little over an hour out of each day. Plus some of these things I am already doing, if not more when you add in an occasional Morning or Evening Prayer from The Divine Office. So the additional time is not really an issue. In order to ensure that it’s not an issue I’m going to open more time in my daily schedule. How? By deleting my Facebook account for one thing. I’ve attempted to only check it during business hours off and on, but that’s just stealing time from my employer. And since I don’t always have my laptop or PC on at home I wind up spending way too much time engrossed in the screen on my Droid. This morning while walking back from Starbucks to the office I watched a woman get plowed into by a guy on a bicycle. He’d tried to avoid her but she was too busy checking her Facebook (she admitted this to me as I helped her up). A good friend of mine recently deactivated his Facebook account when he had been too busy checking it while giving a practice spelling test to his first grader and realized he had no idea whether his son had spelled any of the words correctly. I’ve tried for months to limit my time spent there, but repeatedly fail. So it’s got to go. Will I come back? Probably. But I need to go cold turkey for awhile. It will go black this weekend at some point.
I want to give my family and especially my children more of my time. I also want them to get the best, most “at peace” version of me that I can give them. The seven items above are designed to do this by providing a solid foundation for the day, the mind and the soul. It is from personal experience in the past “pre-Facebook” that I know this to be true.
Besides, it’s not like I’m falling off the grid. I’ve still got five separate email accounts(!) and this blog through which I may be reached. Just a few short years ago that was more than enough. It’s too much in fact, but it’s reality.
Now, what things am I going to try to avoid in 2012? Aside from Mayan Prophecies and reality TV I plan on avoiding:
- Comparing myself to others.
- Going “should” on myself.
- Trying to get people to like me.
- Interrupting others.
- Worrying about how I look.
- Working constantly.
- Failing to give people a break.
- Complaining about minor illnesses.
- Being a jerk.
- Avoid doing the right thing.
- Making fun of people.
- Being too hard on myself.
Once again, I’m lifting the bulk of this list from elsewhere but I’m incorporating them as my own. I don’t presently do a few of these but I decided to keep them on the list as reminders. I added “Politics” because 2012 is shaping up to be the most polarizing, ugly and nasty year in American politics that we’ve seen in quite awhile. Americans seem to politicize everything and because of this identity politics is rampant. Oh, you believe in x? Than you must be for y. There is a real effort to eliminate the ability for any person of faith to comment or hold a position on an issue. If he or she does, she is accused of dragging their religious beliefs into the public square. It is madness and an attempt to whitewash history. Each generation has vainly thought it was the “most enlightened” generation and that all who came before were ignoramuses who lived in the dark ages. A line spoken by Vizzini in The Princess Bride always comes to my mind when I consider this:
If you recall that arrogance didn’t serve Vizzini so well. It doesn’t serve us either.
Tony Esolen wrote something pithy recently while discussing American politics that I copied down as it struck home to me while drafting this piece. He said
When one does not believe in a transcendent God, to whose goodness and wisdom none of us can measure up, then the Next Big Thing in sight becomes a god. I’ve been arguing that there are three candidates for Next Big Thing. In my mind they go by the names Baal, Pharaoh, and Adam: Nature, the State, and the Self. The Left now worships at the altars of all three, by turns. The secular Right worships at the altar of Adam, with sometimes a nod to Baal, and a nod to Pharaoh when he’s on the warpath. A pox on ’em all.
Indeed. I see too many of us making a god out of the state. History is replete with this and sadly it’s happening again.
In 2012 we’ll celebrate the 600th anniversary of the birth of St. Joan of Arc (Jan. 6, 1412), the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens (Feb. 7, 1812), and the 100th anniversary of the opening of that baseball shrine: Fenway Park (Apr. 20, 1912). We will also commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic and of the over 1,500 who lost their lives on that voyage on April 12, 1912.
It will be a year of reading books of course. Among the many I plan to read there are three major works I’ve put off for a few years and my goal is to finish at least two of them. The Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul II, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, and The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I’d started Brothers a few years ago but stopped after a hundred pages. I plan to start over. Of this giant among literature Simcha Fisher recently wrote:
I wish more people would give The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky a chance. It’s intimidating because it’s so long and it’s A Classic, but it’s surprisingly modern, and has everything you could wish for in a novel: unforgettable characters, crazy stories, laughter, blood, tears, sex, God, monks, prostitutes, puppies, etc. This book will change you for the better, if it doesn’t kill you first.
How can you not want to read that book?
It will be a year of baseball, birthdays, and blogging. Oh, and a little bourbon thrown in to smooth out the year.
And that’s my 2012.
What’s on your list? What do you just know you can do?