Saturday, January 1, 2011

duc in altum

Every year, I also have an extensive list of possible New Year's resolutions. Ditto with Lenten resolutions, Advent resolutions, etc. It is sometimes discouraging to make these lists. I look at my life and feel that I want to reform everything all at once. Then this list of everything I need to do to change about my life seems too hard and I get overwhelmed. It's impossible, I think, so I might as well just stick with status quo. I waffle between these two extremes. Or I remember advice I've received in the past that I should just make one resolution and keep it well. But how to choose? So many of the things I want to be faithful to are interconnected and I can't decide which is the most important. The whole thing can be a miserable, vicious cycle.

And I was depressed until I came across this beautiful passage in a book of homilies by Fr. McLean Cummings called Making God the Joy of Our Soul. He focuses on the phrase duc in altum, Christ's words to the Apostles who had been fishing all night without catching anything. Fr. Cummings speaks of people who come to him discouraged with their failures and ready to give up. They say to him: "I keep confessing the same sins, I get distracted when I pray. I'm always tempted. So I've packed in the nets, after laboring all night in vain. No! There's Jesus who says: Don't pack it in! Put out into the deep! Go farther than you've ever gone before. With no rational hope of succeeding, but only trusting in Me, you will make progress. You will."

He continues: "Altum means not only deep but also high. So, 'duc in altum' might also be translated "set out for the heights". In a spiritual reading of Christ's words, then, his message might well be for Peter and for us to set our sights high, to be ambitious for the best in life. . . . We must not fear failure, or effort, or sacrifice, or great odds, or past sins, or all these things we are more than conquerors in Him who loves us."

John Paul II says in Novo Millennio Ineunte: "Duc in altum! These words ring out for us today, and they invite us to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm and to look forward to the future with confidence: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

A beautiful thought for the beginning of a new year. It is encouraging for me to think that Christ wants me to set my sights high. He wants me to make resolutions and look to Him for the strength to keep them. Will I fail? Of course I will. But I can conquer even through my failure if I offer it to Him and get back on my feet with His help.

One of my resolutions is to post at least weekly on here. It seems a tall order when my last post was over six months ago. But I know sharing my thoughts like this is something I want to do and it will make me happy. So I'm putting out into the deep.

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