The year turns, and it’s time for us to take stock.
But taking stock is not enough, as you and I well know. Once we’ve sized up the previous year, we need to make resolutions. Once we know what’s working well, we pledge to make it even better. When we see something that needs to be changed, then we make like a linesman at a bowl game – and we plow into the new year with a firm purpose of amendment.
I resolve, first of all, to remember the marvels the Lord has done (see Psalm 105). If 2009 taught me anything, it taught me that this work – the work of the St. Paul Center – is not mine. Nor is it simply mine and yours. It’s the Lord’s work. Last year’s economy presented us with seemingly insuperable financial challenges. We expected to make deep cuts, out of necessity, in our programs.
God had other plans. If anything, our programs grew a bit, even as we faced them with sparse resources. In almost every case, the programs produced unexpected results, again in spite of our weakness. We thrilled to news of Bible-study start-ups, conversions of heart, and people suddenly unemployed or underemployed finding new opportunities for apostolic work.
The arm of the Lord is not shortened by recessions, wars, or opposition (see Isaiah 59:1). I’ve resolved not to forget this in 2010!
I’m resolving also to apply myself more zealously to improving conditions for our priests. This month is the halfway mark of the Church’s Year of the Priest. Our programs last year helped many clergy to grow deeper in their knowledge and love of the Scriptures – and then apply that growth to their ministry, especially in their homilies. Our clergy conference at St. Vincent Archabbey was a great success. Our Letter & Spirit Conference in Pittsburgh attracted a record number of seminarians (more than seventy) from eight seminaries. I’m resolving to put more effort and more prayer into the success of these programs when they repeat in 2010, so that we all can look forward to many “years of the priest” in our future.
I resolve, too, to press on with more Spanish-language programs this year. This is one of the most urgent requests I hear from readers, friends, and donors. They fear we’re missing an opportunity. They fear we’re not corresponding to a graced moment in history. I resolve to respond. At this time next year, you can measure the Center’s progress on this front.
In all these resolutions, it’s my burning desire to follow after our patron, St. Paul. In the Acts of the Apostles, he “resolved in the Spirit” to make tremendous apostolic progress – “to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem” (Acts 19:21). I want, however, to keep following St. Paul. He concludes his resolutions with a big one: “After I have been there [to Jerusalem], I must also see Rome.”
In May I will make a pilgrimage to the Rome with a hundred friends of the Center. We will pray for all these apostolic efforts. We’ll pray together for our friends and families to persevere in the faith. We’ll pray together for those who have strayed, that they may return. We’ll pray for those who may be on the road to conversion, that they may experience extraordinary graces in the months ahead.
Is there any chance you can join us? I’ll be there with my wife Kimberly, my friends and fellow Catholic authors Mike Aquilina and Steve Ray, and art historian and EWTN host Elizabeth Lev. We’ll visit the holy places, including some even I have never seen before! Our theme: “When in Rome … Study Romans!”
If you can’t go with us, please take our pilgrimage to your prayer. Take my resolutions, too. Pray that I’ll correspond to the graces God gives. I thank you in advance. I promise you my prayers in 2010: Resolved!