Goals for the New Year

Happy New Year! 2014 offers each of us the opportunity to become more like Christ; to be better parents; to love God, our families, and our neighbors more perfectly than ever before. The year has already begun, but it is still young enough for each of us to formulate resolutions. Better yet, let us form goals: for the word “goals” implies action; a plan with steps toward an end.

Years ago, Fr. Thomas Hopko was asked how he would summarize what the life of a Christian should look like. In response to that request, he made up a list of “55 Maxims,” 55 things that a believer in Christ should do if they really want to be obedient to God and live in the way that God would want them to live. These maxims should be our goals as Christians all year long, so what better time to review them than the beginning of a brand new year?

Let us look at these 55 maxims and see for ourselves in which areas we need to improve in 2014. Let us also review them with the children under our care, as they, too, are learning how to best follow Christ. Let us all make goals to become better Christians by aiming towards these maxims:

  1. Be always with Christ.
  2. Pray as you can, not as you want.
  3. Have a keepable rule of prayer that you do by discipline.
  4. Say the Lord’s Prayer several times a day.
  5. Have a short prayer that you constantly repeat when your mind is not occupied with other things.
  6. Make some prostrations when you pray.
  7. Eat good foods in moderation.
  8. Keep the Church’s fasting rules.
  9. Spend some time in silence every day.
  10. Do acts of mercy in secret.
  11. Go to liturgical services regularly
  12. Go to confession and communion regularly.
  13. Do not engage intrusive thoughts and feelings. Cut them off at the start.
  14. Reveal all your thoughts and feelings regularly to a trusted person.
  15. Read the scriptures regularly.
  16. Read good books a little at a time.
  17. Cultivate communion with the saints.
  18. Be an ordinary person.
  19. Be polite with everyone.
  20. Maintain cleanliness and order in your home.
  21. Have a healthy, wholesome hobby.
  22. Exercise regularly.
  23. Live a day, and a part of a day, at a time.
  24. Be totally honest, first of all, with yourself.
  25. Be faithful in little things.
  26. Do your work, and then forget it.
  27. Do the most difficult and painful things first.
  28. Face reality.
  29. Be grateful in all things.
  30. Be cheerful.
  31. Be simple, hidden, quiet and small.
  32. Never bring attention to yourself.
  33. Listen when people talk to you.
  34. Be awake and be attentive.
  35. Think and talk about things no more than necessary.
  36. When we speak, speak simply, clearly, firmly and directly.
  37. Flee imagination, analysis, figuring things out.
  38. Flee carnal, sexual things at their first appearance.
  39. Don’t complain, mumble, murmur or whine.
  40. Don’t compare yourself with anyone.
  41. Don’t seek or expect praise or pity from anyone.
  42. We don’t judge anyone for anything.
  43. Don’t try to convince anyone of anything.
  44. Don’t defend or justify yourself.
  45. Be defined and bound by God alone.
  46. Accept criticism gratefully but test it critically.
  47. Give advice to others only when asked or obligated to do so.
  48. Do nothing for anyone that they can and should do for themselves.
  49. Have a daily schedule of activities, avoiding whim and caprice.
  50. Be merciful with yourself and with others.
  51. Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath.
  52. Focus exclusively on God and light, not on sin and darkness.
  53. Endure the trial of yourself and your own faults and sins peacefully, serenely, because you know that God’s mercy is greater than your wretchedness.
  54. When we fall, get up immediately and start over.
  55. Get help when you need it, without fear and without shame.

To hear Fr. Thomas’ podcast about these maxims, listen at http://audio.ancientfaith.com/hopko/stt008titheofyear_pc.mp3. Print your own copy to hang in your home as a reminder of your goals for the year (better yet, for life) from http://christthesavioroca.org/files/Hopko-55Maxims.pdf.

Let us talk together with our family about these maxims. Let’s select a few to focus on, for this year, and discuss what our plan of action will be. We need to write down our plan of action, and post it where all of us can see it throughout the year. We should revisit our plan occasionally; especially at the end of the year; and discuss our progress.

And, should any of us fail to meet our ideals for improvement in any of these 55 maxims, see #54.

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