New beginnings, new start, new year, new life-- why not start off with blessings and trust with great confidence in God that the "New Year" will be the best of "Years"! To accomplish this, we have to have a game-plan, a strategy, a PLAN OF LIFE.
One of the primary goals of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola is through prayer, meditation, contemplation and the construction of a "Plan of Life" to order the disordered in our lives. The Holy Spirit is a God of order; Satan causes disorder and confusion. St. Augustine defines peace as " the tranquility of order." We all yearn for peace; why not order our lives by hammering out a PLAN OF LIFE.
Your plan should be practical, concrete, realistic and approved by your confessor or Spiritual Director! Our Lady of Guadalupe placed in order the flowers in the tilma of St. Juan Diego. Let us beg Mary to help us to compose our own Plan of Life, live it out faithfully, and experience great order in peace in all the areas of our life.
This plan of life will be directed at specific areas in our life that we can work on to improve. The suggestions are not exhaustive, but should stimulate further reflection and action on your part!
1. SPIRITUAL LIFE= My relationship in friendship with the Trinitarian Family.
a) Holy Hour done faithfully in a set time and place and with method! Your "Hour of Power!"
b) DAILY EXAMEN= Go through the day step by step and be thankful, aware of His graces, repentant for your failures and hopeful trusting in God's graces!
c)LIVING IN GOD'S PRESENCE= Being more aware of God because in Him we live and move and have our being.
2. FAMILY LIFE: RELATION WITH MY SPOUSE
a) Pray on daily basis for spouse.
b) Make a novena to St Joseph for him/her.
c)Encourage! Say words of encouragement.
3. FAMILY LIFE: CHILDREN
a) Pray more for them.
b) MASS. Have a Mass offered for children on birthday of each: greatest prayer!
c) SACRAMENTS! Provide for a more abundant sacramental life for them. Their souls first!
4. WORK! OPUS DEI! Work of God; work for God. Remember the words of St. Paul: "Whether you eat or drink, do all for the honor and glory of God."
a) Purify intention! Work for God for His honor and glory
b) Be punctual! Give the Lord a full and honest day's work!
c.) Competent/efficient/effect. Perform your work well. Our Lady of Fatima told Lucia that the first penance should be doing our work well!
5. SOCIAL LIFE. The choice of friends, the use of time, the application of recreation and diversion.
a) Friends that are truly "Friends" should help you to get closer to God and you should draw them closer to God.
b) SEVER/END If a past friendship is jeopardizing your relationship with God or simply a waste of time, time to end it and move on and choose other friends!
c) FREE TIME/PARTIES/DIVERSIONS. Examine them! If they are not promoting the Kingdom and your sanctification, alterations are called for as a New Year begins! Time is short and we have only one life to live; no time to waste!
6. PENITENTIAL LIFE. Jesus said clearly and forcefully, "Unless you do penance, you will perish." (Meaning, lose your soul!!!) Penance, mortification, self-denial, asceticism, can be practiced always. However, every FRIDAY we must do some form of penance! Fasting, more prayer, 70 minute (Holy Hour), visiting a sick person, way of the cross.... these are just a few among many ways that we can practice penance to imitate all the more our Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus. Other ways!
a) Get up a little earlier and pray more!
b) ROSARY! If you pray one, then add another!
c) CONDIMENTS! Give up putting condiments on your meal!
The more we say "No" to our own self, the more we say "Yes" to God and the more we grow in grace!
7. APOSTOLIC LIFE! "Go out to all the world, teaching them all I have taught you.."(Mt 28)
The Call of the King can be heard; so do not be deaf!!!
a) Charity begins at home! Introduce some form of prayer to your family.
b) Bless the meals; say the Rosary; say night prayers! Transform your family into what it should be "The domestic church".
c). PARISH/CHURCH. "Do not ask what your parish can do for you; ask what you can do for your parish!!!" Offer your services to your local church. Nobody is so poor that he cannot give; nobody is so rich that he cannot receive. Learn that happiness comes from selfless giving!
8. PERMANENT FORMATION! STUDY!!!!
To grow in our faith, we must know our faith. You cannot love that which you do not know. The Ignatian dynamic plays out as such: knowledge generates love; love generates a following, following generates imitation and imitation, transformation. "No longer I who live but Christ who loves in me." We are called to be "replicas of Christ" in the world!
a) STUDY! The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Get to know the 4 pillars: Doctrine/dogma: the Creed, Morality/ the 10 commandments/ Life of grace/ the 7 Sacraments/ Union with God/ the Life of prayer! With these 4 pillars you will have a solid spiritual structure and foundation in which to grow in holiness.
b) LIVES OF THE SAINTS. Get to know the true "Friends of God"-- these are the saints, and you are called to become one. Get to know them because you will be with them for all eternity. Blessed Pope John XXIII called the saints, "God's masterpieces".
c.) SPIRITUAL DIRECTION. Find some form of periodic spiritual direction. The higher we ascend in the spiritual life, the more subtle are the temptations. Also, the three St. Ignatius St. John of the Cross and St Teresa of Avila agree that it is impossible to direct oneself in the spiritual life. We all have blind spots that we cannot see!
9. SACRAMENTAL LIFE. Work on improving, purifying and upgrading your personal sacramental life. The most abundant graces flow through the sacramental system. Take advantage of this infinite reservoir of grace offered freely to you!
a)MASS. Upgrade your Holy Communions! Come early to make a better preparation; participate more fully; stay after to extend your thanksgiving. One Mass and Holy Communion is worth more than the whole created universe!
b)CONFESSION. Come more often! Prepare yourself better! Then after receiving the mercy of God; you, be an incarnation of God's mercy in the world!
c) FAMILY COMMUNION AND CONFESSION. Take your whole family to Confession, Communion and then the restaurant! First the "Bread of Life" then the bread for the body! Soul first, body second!
10. MARY IN YOUR LIFE! Mary is indeed our life, our sweetness and our hope. (The Hail Holy Queen).
a) PRAYER! Pray to Mary; talk to Mary; confide in Mary. Pray the prayer that she loves most: the Hail Mary and the Holy Rosary! If possible in family!
b)IMITATE. Strive to imitate the virtues of Mary. St Louis de Montfort in True Devotion to Mary give us a list of the ten (10) principal virtues of Mary. They are the following: deep humility, lively faith, blind obedience, unceasing prayer, constant self-denial, surpassing purity, ardent love, heroic patience, angelic kindness, and heavenly wisdom. (True Devotion to Mary, St Louis de Montfort, # 108). Ask Mary for the grace to improve on all of these virtues. She will not fail you!
c) MARIA COGITA, MARIA INVOCA! This is the motto of the Congregation of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, which translated into English is "Think of Mary and invoke Mary."
In conclusion. starting off a New year is time to hammer out a New Plan of Life. This done, there will be more order in your life, more peace in your heart, more purpose and meaning in your existence, work done better, more easily and with greater joy, and finally an abundant harvest for the life to come! This new year will be the best of years, through the intercession of Mary the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church and your Mother!