Fired by love's urgent longings, I am his rocketman.

Happy New Year!

I pray for each of you who may read this post that the Lord will fill you with knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding to live in a manner worthy of him, so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with his power, in accord with his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, filled with joy and overflowing with thanksgiving.  (See Colossians 1:13-14)

Since we are at the beginning of a new year I would like to offer some suggestions for New Year’s resolutions through an introduction to Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan and by sharing some of his thoughts with you.

Francis was born in Vietnam on April 17, 1928.  He was a nephew of South Vietnam’s first president, Ngo Dinh Diem, and of Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc.  He was a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church.  Before becoming a Cardinal he was bishop of Nha Trang, in Central Vietnam.  In April 1975, Pope Paul VI named him archbishop of Saigon.  Four months later, on August 15, 1975, he was arrested by the Communists.  He was forced to spend thirteen years in prison, nine of which were in solitary confinement.  He has written three books, “The Road to Hope”, “Testimony of Hope” and “Five Loaves and Two Fish”; I recommend all of them to you.

After Francis was released from prison, he was allowed to leave Vietnam and received many opportunities to speak and reflect on his experience in prison and his relationship with Jesus.  The talks he gave to people all over the world, particularly young people, became the core of his book “Five Loaves and Two Fish”.  Every time I read it, I feel as if he is sitting with me in my living room, just sharing from the heart about the lessons he learned while he was captive.

Francis’ lifelong friend and biographer, Andre N Van Chau, wrote the forward to “Five Loaves and Two Fish”.  In it he shares that the Cardinal once drew a cross and placed inscriptions at the top, at the place where Christ rested his head, and where his hands and feet were nailed, (five points of the cross) The inscriptions read:  “I am nothing,” “I am worth nothing,” “I deserve nothing,” “I can do nothing,” and “I know nothing.” (Forward p. VIII)

I often repeat these five sayings to remind myself who I am.

The Cardinal believed that we are called to be saints, holy men and women, who live in union with Jesus.  According to him, the best way to do that is to live radically for Jesus 24 hours per day 7 days per week.  He offers us twenty four practical ideas to correspond to each hour of every day.  Perhaps some or all of these might provide the basis for new year resolutions.

1   Everyday prepare yourself for the Holy Spirit and a new Pentecost

2   Commit yourself to make others happy

3   Give your life for your brothers and sisters

4   Live for unity

5   Believe in the power of the body and blood of Jesus

6   Wear one garment and speak one language:  love

7   Hold firmly to one guiding principle:  prayer

8   Observe one rule:  the Gospel

9   Loyally follow Jesus

10  Honor Mary, the Mother of God, and other holy men and women

11  Take as your one wisdom the way of the cross

12  Have one ideal:  turn to the Father who is all love

13  There is only one thing you must fear:  sin

14  Cherish one desire:  thy kingdom come

15  There is only one thing you lack:  sell all that belongs to you and give it to the poor

16  Share the gospel through personal relationships

17  Like Mary, choose the better part (to sit at the Lord’s feet)

18  Your only food:  “The Father’s will” (Jn 4:34)

19  Live in the present moment

20  Live the Beatitudes (Mt 5:3-12)

21  Be faithful to your duties

22  Depend on the grace of God for everything

23  Seek only one thing:  God

24  Always seek the good of your family, community and country

(Five Loaves and Two Fish pages 69-79)

I would find it very challenging to try to apply all of these principles to my daily life.  You may be thinking the same thing.  Perhaps there are two or three that you may find particularly suited to your circumstances and state in life.

On a personal note, I have three new year’s resolutions:  I will pray more this year; I will do at least one thing everyday to express love for my neighbor; and I will ask the Lord everyday to increase my faith.

What are your new year’s resolutions?

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