You know the common new year’s resolutions:
1) lose weight
2) get swole
3) pray more
4) go to daily Mass
5) grow in patience
6) read the whole Bible in a year
Well, if you’re like most people who fail year after year to keep up their new year’s resolutions after a month (or less), then you might need some encouragement to try again this year after so many failed attempts. The encouragement lies in the strength of will-power! If you know the gift of will-power, you will not be as likely to fall into the pitfall of defeatism. Thanks to will power, Dick Hoyt was able to push his paraplegic son, Rick, in a wheelchair through 255 triathlons and 72 marathons.
As with all good things, will power is a gift from God. In the spiritual classic The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, he wrote, “Remember that our God-given wills govern all of our strength.” If we rely on feelings, we will not have lasting strength with our resolutions. Choosing to commit, through the act of the will, will help us persevere in making our good habits.” Not only will we persevere in our resolutions, but we’ll thrive in keeping our resolutions. St. Dominic affirms this advantage as he famously said, “A man who governs his passions is master of the world. We must either rule them or be ruled by them. It is better to be the hammer than the anvil.”
Archbishop Fulton Sheen adds to the blessing of will power as a gift given to us by God as he wrote, “There is only one thing in the world that is definitely and absolutely your own, and that is your will. Health, power, possessions and honor can all be snatched from you, but your will is irrevocably your own, even in hell. Hence, nothing really matters in life, except what you do with your will.”
Now one might argue that their will is not strong. They may be right in their argument. St. Augustine in his Confessions, acknowledges this problem in his chapter called, “The Two Wills.” He argues the problem isn’t so much that the will is not strong, but that the will is not compelled to be ruled. But don’t be discouraged! The Catechism offers the solution in how to compel the will, and thereby strengthen it!
“Progress in virtue, knowledge of the good, and ascesis enhance the mastery of the will over its acts.” -Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1734.
Concerning the third solution, ascesis (also known as asceticism) given in the catechism quote, St. Josemaria Escriva , comments,”Will power. A very important quality. Don’t disregard the little things which are really never futile or trivial. For by the constant practice of repeated self denial in little things, with God’s grace you will increase in strength and manliness of character. In that way you’ll first become master of yourself, and then a guide and a leader: to compel, to urge, to draw others with your example and with your word and with your knowledge and with your power.”
May the Lord bless us in carrying out our resolutions which help us to become the saints we’re called to be. Jesus did tell us, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” The God given gift of our will power, with Jesus’ help, empowers us to live life to the full.
Featured image: Pixabay. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.