Bishop Hying

Making 2016 resolutions public increases one’s accountability

As published in the Northwest Indiana Catholic on January 10, 2016   


      Do you make New Year’s resolutions?  In my conversations with people, there seem to be divided opinions about their value. Some people still make them and sincerely try to follow through on some sort of life-changing commitment. Others, perhaps more realistic about the difficulty of negotiating such changes or jaded by past failures, take a pass on January resolutions. For some folks, their resolution is to not make resolutions.  

      At the beginning of every year, new people would suddenly appear at the gym where I worked out, ready to lose weight and get into shape, perhaps fueled by a gift membership at Christmas. Most have mysteriously disappeared by February. 

      Changing habits and behaviors is hard work, especially if we are talking about some sort of lasting commitment. I recently read that only 8% of the people who make New Year’s resolutions achieve any success in keeping them.

      I am still naïve enough to make New Year’s resolutions, and as I sit here writing this column, am wondering why I so often failed to keep them. Several reasons come to mind:

      I made too many commitments at once.

      There was no specific plan to effect the goal. 

      After one setback or failure, I tended to give up.

      I secretly did not really want to change. 

      The goals were too ambitious and unrealistic. 

      So, 2016 is going to be different!  I am actually going to do it this time.  Seriously.  Really.  For sure!  So, here are my resolutions for this brand new year.

      Pray with more focus and purpose.  As a bishop, I obviously try to pray and put the Lord at the center of my day and my life. I pray the Liturgy of the Hours, offer the Eucharist, read the Scriptures, meditate on the rosary and try to spend some quiet moments in reflection. Yet, I am often more distracted in all of it than I should be. I let worries, busyness and urgencies crowd into my time with God. A whole day can fly past and I discover that I gave scant attention to the One who made it all possible.

      This year, I truly want to organize every day around prayer, not just fit prayer into the day, as sometimes happens.

      Worry less.I tell everybody else not to worry, to put things into God’s hands, to surrender and let go, but I do a lot of worrying myself. I worry about the Church and the world, about our youth and our parishes, our priests and our people, friends who have illnesses and people who ask me to pray about terrible situations.  I worry about the city of Gary and the many things I am asked to do, often feeling that my “best” may not be good enough.  Maybe worrying is a sign that you care, but I need to practice what I preach more often, to let go and let God. He is working it all out.

      De-clutter my life. Over Christmas, I cleaned out my car, my closet and made a good dent in my office. It felt great! If every item of clutter is a postponed decision, there are many choices I have been putting off.  While I am not a hoarder, I need to live more closely to the rule that, if you have not worn it, used it or looked at it in a year, chances are you can live without it. Environment matters and impacts us, so a clean room, an organized desk and an orderly house help us feel and live better.

      Reach out to someone every day. When I was a parish pastor, one of the better things I did one year was to call all the parishioners on their birthdays, simply to say hello, offer prayers and thank them for being part of the community. So, I want to reach at least one person a day, to thank them, praise them, listen to them, help them. Priests, parishioners, friends, young people, family, prisoners, the sick, deacons and sisters all merit my love, attention and time. I want to give more of me this year to the people around me. What a difference a simple phone call or note can make.

      Eat healthier and exercise more consistently. As a bishop, I never have a bad meal. Tofu and salad are rarely on the menu at meal time. If we feed the people we love, then I’m feeling a whole lot of love every day! Many thanks to all of you out there who have welcomed and fed me this past year! But I need to eat less, consume less, be in greater solidarity with the hungry and poor and find greater health through exercise. Life is so much better when less is more.

     Be more generous to the poor and the marginalized.  I know I can do more for those who need help, through prayer, service, financial donations and time volunteered. In this Year of Mercy, the pope is urging all of us to reach out with greater compassion and generosity to the poor and suffering.\\

      Maybe I share these resolutions with you, so that I feel more committed to actually living them out.  Making them public holds me accountable. I, like so many others, will probably fail in these endeavors, but isn’t it a good thing to strive to be a better person, to realize that we have one less year to live than last January, that God is giving us another chance to more profoundly become the person He is calling us to be and that deep-down we want to be? Time is short and we only have now. I want to make the most of it, maybe fail in some painful ways, but in the end, to die trying….to become a saint.


      + Donald J. Hying


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