I confess: I’ve never been particularly successful at keeping New Year’s resolutions because I’m more successful at finding excuses to ignore them. In years past I’ve been sidetracked by crowded gyms, the sniffles, and my general inability to resist temptation. This year, I decided I need some extra help, so I’m turning to the saints. I’m used to asking for the intercession of saints for big concerns, for example, laying my parenting woes at the feet of St. Monica, or asking for St. Peregrine’s support for a friend battling cancer. But what about intercession for life’s more mundane issues? Studies show we are more successful reaching goals when we enlist the help of a friend, and who better than our saint friends? Here are a few of my resolutions with the saints who will help me stay on track in 2020.
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Getting in shape with St. Sebastian, Pope St. John Paul II, and St. Expeditus
Getting more exercise is a perennial New Year’s resolution for me. I thought I’d turn to the patron of athletes, St. Sebastian, or Pope St. John Paul II, well known for his athleticism and love of the outdoors. But my gym time flailing doesn’t quite rise to the level of athleticism and John Paul II surely has more important intercessions and Sebastian is also the patron of those wishing a saintly death. (While I feel like dying when I exercise, I don’t think I’m likely to actually meet my demise and certainly not in a saintly way.) Honestly, my real issue is one of procrastination and lack of motivation. So, I think I need to turn to St. Expeditus, patron of procrastinators. In the early days of the Church, Roman soldier Expeditus, when about to convert to Christianity, was tempted by the devil (in the form of a crow) telling him to “wait until tomorrow.” Expeditus wouldn’t be swayed from his goal saying, “No. Today I will become a Christian.” That’s just the determination I need on those mornings when I’m tempted to say to myself, “Maybe I’ll just go to the gym tomorrow.”
Being more organized with St. Benedict and St. Zita
Another one of my resolutions this year is to finally get more organized. I’ve tried old-school to-do lists and digital solutions, but I still feel overwhelmed keeping up with my schedule, my responsibilities, and of course, the stacks of magazines and mail that threaten to swallow up my desk. While St. Expeditus can help with my general procrastination, I might need to consult an organizational expert on this one. I thought of St. Benedict, whose “rules” set out how to efficiently run a monastery. Then I read that Benedict was so strict in his organizational skills that some of his fellow brothers tried to poison him. Maybe I will ask for his help sparingly. St. Zita, the patron of homemakers and house cleaners might be a gentler and more accessible choice to support me. She managed to keep up with the daunting level of chores her demanding employer required while never missing Mass. And all in the days before dishwashers and washing machines.
Overcoming bad habits with St. Jude and St. Charles Borromeo
A brand new calendar year brings a sense of new possibilities. While your vision of the new-improved-you might not be the same as mine, we all crave the fresh start New Year’s resolutions can bring. But if you’re like me, after starting strong your enthusiasm and energy flag. Asking a saint to intercede on our behalf is like having an accountability partner, someone who either encountered the same challenges in life or is a role model for the goal we wish to achieve. So maybe you don’t need the help of St. Expeditus or St. Zita, but St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes, might be able to support you in your quest to finally quit smoking or St. Charles Borromeo, who was unable to eat what he liked due to stomach issues, can help in your struggle to lose weight. Ask them to intercede for you, trusting that they know the challenges you’re facing. It’s good to know you have a friend in heaven.
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(Originally published December 31, 2018)