Preparing for the new year is rewarding. Some head to the groceries with a list of ingredients for the midnight feast. Certain traditions are kept. Filipinos flock to fruit stalls to choose 8 or a dozen round fruits, believing, like the Chinese, that anything circular brings an infinity of luck. Placed on a wicker basket, the fruits symbolize prosperity. Some put pineapples on window sills because its numerous eyes provide an ‘eye’ for financial opportunities.
Pre-occupied with a lot of things, nevertheless important, we forget to feed our souls to prepare it for whatever the year brings. The following questions from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius may help to take stock of the past year and gear our spirit to what is ahead. In every question, begin from January and move month by month. If you have a journal, a diary or even a calendar to aid you remember, then by all means use them.
A. What have I done for Christ? A review of the year 2010.
1. What have you achieved? It is important to know what you have attained. The Lord has given us abilities for us to create or accomplish something by our efforts, skills or courage. It is but fitting that we acknowledge them.
2. What challenges have you overcome and how did you overcome them? It is also profitable to identify obstacles we faced and what we have learned. But it is more important, at least in my opinion, how we have overcome them. The ways and means may be our best weapons to face future barriers that may hinder us.
3. Create a list and rank the top 5. Bring these to prayer:
a. What do you feel looking at your list?
b. How do you think Jesus feels with your list? Do you think He is happy with what you have done for Him this year?
B. What am I doing for Christ? Assessing the present.
1. What have you learned from the past?
2. How have you changed? We always say that time runs so fast. Many have been discouraged from making resolutions, because they believed nothing has happened. But growth is difficult to notice minute-by-minute as observing the growth in plants. So a year is realistic enough to see these small changes.
3. Create a list and rank the top 5. If you haven’t reach five, that is fine. Better one than nothing at all. Bring the list to prayer:
a. What do you feel about the learnings and changes in the past year? Are you at peace with them? Are you happy with who you are now?
b. How do you think Jesus feels about these changes and what you have become now?
C. What ought I to do for Christ? Identifying and naming achievable goals.
1. Looking at the lists in A and B, what’s next for you? It is best to identify what comes concretely for us and use it as a framework. For example, I will be in 3rd year Chemical Engineering next year. So, what are the things I have to do as a 3rd year student in Engineering. It is good to have a working framework so as to be realistic.
2. What are your dreams and wishes this new year? It is good to distinguish that wishes are like goals and resolutions are the ways to achieve them. Therefore, resolutions should be achievable, practical and concrete. For example, we wish to be kind. So we resolve to keep our tongue when we are provoked by people who anger us.
3. Make a list and rank them. Choose the top 5. Bring them to prayer:
a. What do you feel about the coming year, equipped with your own goals?
b. How do you think Jesus feels about them? Always include the Lord in your plans. What do you feel now that you know how the Lord feels about your plans? Are you happy, satisfied, or hopeful? Are you afraid or anxious? Ask the Lord to accompany you in your future journey.
Always end with an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.
A final note: You can divide these questions into prayer periods, focusing on one question per prayer.