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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

My Big Fat New Year's Day

I did trudge down to the marina to stand beneath the fancy party and watch the fireworks. To do that, I have to walk down several blocks in one direction, go through a whole in the fence to the park, walk across the park (very short) and then walk back in the other direction a little farther than I've walked in the first place. It's really not particularly far. I did all that walking in a heavy fog. Not in my brain. The whole bay was in a thick fog. It wasn't until I arrived at the 'party' that the I realized there was a fog in my brain that caused me to do all that walking in the thick fog and not have it occur to me that you can not see fireworks in a thick fog.

This happens on July 4th sometimes as well. The fireworks go off in the fog. We see lights flashing in the fog. Then the smoke from the fireworks clouds what's left of the fireworks themselves. Happy Birthday America!

Last night we could only hear the fireworks. Not even a flash in the fog. Someone could have saved a lot of dough by simply having a recording of fireworks.

After it was all over, a small boy was standing out on the deck at the fancy party with some sort of light up pin wheel. I shouted up to him, "HOORAY! You have the only fireworks here tonight!" He seemed tickled. I walked home.

Happy New Year!

I have a question: Does the practice of making New Year's resolutions have any root in our Catholic faith? It seems that every time we go to confession we make a resolution (or two, or a hundred)but are New Years resolutions even BETTER seeing as it's just after Advent and Christmas?

Nope. We tend to think of these things as always being the way they are now. But the date of the start of the New Year has moved around a bit, not to mention that lots of people don't recognize the January 1st date as we speak.

As Catholics, I'm not sure we've come to rest on the official start of the Church calendar. Have we? Maybe we did and I missed out. It's either Christmas day or the Baptism of Jesus. I think.

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions. Don't get me wrong. I'm happy to see people stop smoking, drinking, gambling, overeating, and start brushing their teeth more often, cleaning the oven more than once a year, jogging, trotting, walking, making an earthquake preparedness kit and taking up knitting.

Learn a language! That's my advice!

I've just never gotten my brain around using some arbitrary date to start something you could start anytime you realize you need to make that change. It's just an excuse to be lazy procrastinators.

I do have some advice about adhering to New Year's resolutions, should you decide to wade into having some.

Did you know that lots and lots of people who are in rehab and AA 'relapse' all the time? I read somewhere that the 'cure' rate for people in rehab is a mere ten or fifteen per cent. Should those people just give up and head out and find a corner crack salesman? Of course not. What do they do? They go back to rehab, back to the meetings and they spend another day sober. And another.

I just don't understand how someone who is trying to stop smoking, who cracks and has a cigarette, then turns around and goes berserk and starts smoking like a stack again. What is the deal there? "I tried to quit, but I couldn't." Nonsense. You did quit and then you started smoking again and you used your little slip as an excuse to go nuts. Stop again. Don't buy any cigarettes. Make yourself into a cigarette bum or a pathetic ashtray and trashcan diver. At the very least you'll smoke a lot less. We'll be so happy you smell better most of the time.

I know it's hard. If you've tried to stop smoking and taken up knitting as your New Year's resolutions, someone might end up stabbed to death with a knitting needle.

I saw a program about a man who could barely walk he was so fat, poor dear. He lost ever single excess pound and was Mr. Fit. He did all the talk shows and gave out advice. Then one day a couple of years later, he went to Coney Island for his birthday and decided to treat himself to a Coney Island hot dog. It was so good he had another....and another and another. Now he can barely walk because he is so fat, poor dear.

I understand having the first hot dog. I even understand having ten hot dogs on the same day. But what in the world went on there the next day with this fellow? Glory be! Where did his three years of strength and determination go?

What am I talking about? I've lost my train of thought....

One day at a time. Make a change. If you fail, make the same change again tomorrow.

Now, we all begin thinking about 2009, and our New Year's resolutions. My resolution is to go on a diet, like a zillion other people. I need to lose a significant amount of weight - more than one hundred pounds.

I eat too much, and I move about too little. Is this what the sin of gluttony is and should that be part of my confession?

I liked your earlier post about patron saints of dieting. I am asking them to pray for me as I begin this diet and also to think seriously about how my dietary choices are affecting not only my body, but my soul.

I eat too much, and I move about too little. Is this what the sin of gluttony is and should that be part of my confession? Yeah, I guess so. Far be it from me to decide you've crossed over the line of not paying attention to how much you eat and the idea that you might be a little lazy about exercise to the sins of gluttony and sloth. Gluttony, after all, is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Are you really tipping the scale that far?

But, if it helps you to look at it that way, go for it!

Do you have a plan? I hear Weight Watchers is very good. I read somewhere that if you walk a half an hour every day you won't gain any more weight at least. Maybe it was one hour.

It's going to be a lot of work. Saint involvement is a huge plus.

Maybe tomorrow we should have a talk about what the sin of gluttony actually entails.


Maureen said...

Happy New Year Sister!

On the No Question Left Behind blog we tackled a question on cutting and self harm. In response, someone emailed me and asked if there is a patron saint of self harm.

One of the teen members of the blog suggested perhaps a saint who was into self mortification. I'm not so sure -- there is a difference between wearing a hair shirt to increase spirituality and a teen who suffers through cutting or bulimia.

So, I come to you for your opinion. Teens these days really need patron saints!

Thanks for all you do!


Katney said...

I thought the first Sunday of Advent was the start of the Church year.

Helenrr said...

Hello Sister! Thanks for the comment on my blog, I hope to update it soon..so check back :)
On the beginning of the Church year, I thought it was began over at the First Sunday of Advent. My prayer book/missal begins there...and I thought that the "Magnificat" prayer book/daily readings book also began there...
at Advent.
I am not completely certain about this though, I will try to remember to ask Father after mass.
Have a Blessed New Year, Helen

Anonymous said...

Isn't the first day of the Church year the first Sunday of Advent?

Chris said...

I thought the beginning of the Church calendar was the first Sunday of Advent? Can anyone back me up on that?

Anonymous said...

Happy New year n Wish all a great joyful New year.Wishing lot's of Peace,prosperity and tremendous victories all around.


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Good Remedy said...

Happy New Year Sister! I too have made many resolutions about weight loss. But never really knew how to achieve the goal, even with Weight Watchers. Just wanted to share a Catholic weight loss program that relies on all the great traditions of our faith, especially the Saints! The Light Weigh by Suzanne Fowler. The website is www.lightweigh.com. I have lost 70lbs and kept it off for over 3 years. Hope one hot dog (or Christmas cookie) doesn't do me in! Am sure St. Elizabeth Ann Seton will help me walk away from the cookies. Will ask for her help again today :-) Sincerely, Peggy Fisher

The Dangerous Mezzo said...

Happy New Year, Sister!

Just wanted to say that I've nominated this blog for the Spreader of Love Award :)


All the best,


Anonymous said...

Yes, the first sunday of Advent is the beginning of the church year. The church began in the anticipation of the birth of the Savior and to reflect that, the church year begins with a period of anticipation too.

Jen said...

Maureen -- I agree with your hesitation about giving these teens a role model who was into self-mortification; that's pretty different from what they're doing and it could be really misleading.

What about a saint for mental illness, like St. Dymphna or St. Benedict Joseph Labre? St. Benedict is Father Groeschel's name-saint; he was a man who spent his whole life trying to be a monk, but kept being rejected by monasteries because of his mental health. He lived out his life as a pilgrim serving the poor. Father Groeschel loves him because of his example of holiness through struggling with the cross of mental illness.

Unknown said...

I have the image of your New Year's caught in my brain. I love the idea that 2009 came in hidden by the fog and heralded only by the reverberating booms of fireworks and the lights of a child's pinwheel. Very poetic.
As for resolutions--sure we can make changes any old Wednesday in the middle of the month, but America is a country of fresh starts (St. John the Baptist) and we do like the freshness and blank pages that come at certain times of the year. New Year's, first day of spring, beginning new classes in the fall.
I say go ahead and make resolutions for the year, knowing you may stumble and tweak them a bit. Start them again, early and often. 2009 will only come around once. Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Sister -- I have a patron saint-matching request. I joined a wonderful religious community ten years ago and remained there a year until health problems forced me to leave. I was heart-broken at leaving and dealt with a lot of grief for a year or two. Since then I have come to accept that year as a gift that will prepare me in special ways for whatever else God has planned for me. I'm very happy at the thought that I might have a married vocation.

BUT, I've come to realize recently that I am still coping with a lot of anger at God for what felt like abandonment and betrayal after I left everything for Him. I have had uninterrupted spiritual dryness since I left, and a few priests have suggested that this deep hurt may be the cause. I want to draw close to God, but He's the source of the pain. It's like being in a marriage with someone you still love but can't bear to look at because of an affair.

I'm going to start spiritual direction specifically for help with this, but I'd like all the help I can get! Is there a saint who would be a good fit? People have suggested various saints who have gone through the dark night of the soul, but when I read their stories, I feel some resentment at the grace they had to still believe confidently that God loved them in spite of His apparent abandonment. I don't feel that.

On a related topic, St. Teresa of Calcutta always said to "show a smiling face to Jesus" whatever you might be feeling. I feel more like yelling at Him, but I feel guilty and a bit scared when I do, like it's blasphemous. I'd rather be honest with Him, though. What do you think? Is it okay to haul off and "give Him what for"?

Unknown said...

I love your blog! I made a very small goal for January, that I will revise every month. This month it's 20 minutes of intentional walking (treadmill, or outside, but it has to be 20 min at a stretch).

Small, but something I know I can commit to. I will re-evaluate it for February.

Good luck to you!

Claudia said...

My husband has quit smoking many times......right now it is about 7 months. He often says "I wish I could have just one." I tell him "You can not have just one, that is how you again started smoking innumerable times"

He says "As stupid as it sounds I feel like I should reward myself for not smoking, by having a cigarette." It does sound stupid. Addiction is a terrible thing. I think you just have to stop and not have just one, of what ever your vice is...easier said than done. I would like to eat healthier and walk on the treadmill, or walk outside each day too.

Anonymous said...

PS Do you know the 8th. commandment?

Anonymous said...

Thou shalt not bear false witness.