BLOG: St. Benedict’s New Year’s Resolution

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Times Square New YearWhether the making of New Year’s resolutions was part of the culture or practice of St. Benedict in the sixth century, a passage in his Rule for Monasteries would make a good resolution:

“Clothed with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on the Lord’s paths, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom” (Prologue, 21).

The Bible gives a choice between two paths, the way of the just and the way of the wicked (Psalm 1).  Here the Lord’s way is in the plural, which is also biblical: “Make known to me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths” (Psalm 25:4).  When St. Benedict uses the plural, he may be implying that following the way of the Lord isn’t as simple as getting on a track and setting an automatic pilot or cruise control, but that there are choices all year between good and bad paths.

Note that St. Benedict doesn’t say we should set out on our paths. There was a rumor going around in January, 2000, that in a vote in hell about the best song of the preceding century the winner was “I Did it My Way.”

We are setting out on a journey that leads to the kingdom of God.  This requires a new beginning every day, not just on January 1.  If we use the Gospel for our guide and “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2), cooperating with God’s grace by clothing ourselves with faith and putting the grace into practice in good deeds, our paths will not be just a sightseeing tour but a pilgrimage taking us to God.

Author: Abbot Jerome Kodell

Abbot Jerome was born in Clarksville, Arkansas. He was educated at Subiaco Academy, Subiaco College, Collegio Sant' Anselmo, and the Pontifical Biblical Instititue in Rome. He has served in many capacities as a Subiaco monk: Editor of The Abbey Message, Chaplain at Arkansas Tech University, Founding Member of the Little Rock Scripture Study Program, Abbey Subprior, Formation Director, and Prior of Santa Familia Monastery in Belize-Central America. In the Academy he has served as: Teacher, Yearbook Advisor, Soccer Coach, and Assistant Basketball Coach in the Academy. He was professed his vows as a monk on Sept. 8, 1959, ordained as a Priest on May 22, 1965, and elected the 6th Abbot of our community on Nov. 8, 1989.

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