Though we only recently ushered in 2016, in some ways it feels like the year began long ago. Positioning for the presidential election, finally to take place this November, has been underway for years. The eagerly anticipated apostolic exhortation on the family by Pope Francis to be released sometime in the next few months has its roots in the two-part family synod that began in 2014. Even the Year of Mercy, scheduled to be a main feature for the majority of 2016, got an early start on Dec. 8.
But despite when they got their start, these major themes offer the opportunity for significant growth in holiness in the coming year. So, in honor of the new year, Our Sunday Visitor presents our five resolutions for the next 12 months, and we encourage you, too, to consider them as part of yours.
In 2016, we resolve ...
1) To maintain perspective in an election year. With a little more than 10 months to go until the Nov. 8 presidential election, political and social tensions only are increasing. Our polarized nation will continue to fracture, and it will be easy for individuals to choose discord and isolation rather than to strive for unity. This new year, let us resolve together to avoid getting swept up in the vicious rhetoric that so often dominates an election year — while at the same time pledging to stay informed, form our consciences and, of course, exercise our civic right and responsibility by voting.
2) To walk through a Holy Door. An estimated 10,000 Holy Doors of mercy were opened around the globe in December to mark the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Walking through a Holy Door during a jubilee year is a rare opportunity that can bestow many graces including, under the right circumstances, a plenary indulgence for you or for a loved one. The physical act of passing through the portal can be a powerful sign of one’s commitment to the Faith and to increasing conversion and discipleship.
3) To identify one way to live the Year of Mercy consistently. The Year of Mercy gives us the opportunity to move outside of ourselves and look to the peripheries of our communities and of our own personal lives. Perhaps that means volunteering at a local charity or caring for men and women who are in hospice. Perhaps it means being quicker to forgive or extending more patience within our families. Perhaps it means committing to monthly confession, or simply reading about the men and women who have witnessed Christ’s mercy in our Icons of Mercy series.
4) To waste less food. According to the United Nations, one-third of the food that is produced worldwide — or approximately 1.3 billion tons — is lost or wasted each year. In the United States, the number jumps significantly, and at least half of all fresh produce is wasted. As Pope Francis wrote in his environmental encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, “whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor.” Wasting food also means that significant resources are squandered. Better planning and more intentional living can help curb this significant problem.
5) To adopt an attitude of gratitude. In the world and in the Church, times are tense. Fear is rampant as we face increasing acts of terrorism and violence. Rather than giving into the fear and anxiety that can blind decisions and create division, we are challenging ourselves to count our blessings. There is much more to be grateful for than to fear. We wish you a blessed 2016.
Editorial Board: Greg Erlandson, publisher; Msgr. Owen F. Campion, associate publisher; Beth McNamara, editorial director; Gretchen R. Crowe, editor