The Mike Church Show World HQ
The Mike Church Show World HQ

New Years Approaches-Resolve To Become St. Augustine

republican_Matrix_tshirtMandeville, LA – In a mere 5 days, the planet will welcome the new year that is to be 2015 and tens of millions will make public displays of pride we call “New Years resolutions”, don’t be one of them. Instead resolve to reject the pagan heresy and apostacy we call modern life which as we shall see is itself anathema to the greatest resolution Man can make: to pass through the narrow gate to heaven described Our Lord. “And a certain man said to him: Lord, are they few that are saved? But he said to them:  Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be able.” (Luke 13; 23-24) Consider that the verb “strive” requires our “resolve”, the Latin version of this commandment from Our Lord is Contendite intrare per angustam portam”. Question: do we “contend” that we can pass through that gate by kicking the Marlboro habit or joining the new “Midtown Fitness”?

The “resolutions” common today have their origin in the pagan Roman tradition of making vows to the pagan God Janus, thus the name of the first month of the calendar year “January”. But what is the real point of a “New years Resolution” and are they even successful? There are two succinct answers to this question: Deadly Sins e.g. Pride, Vanity and Lust and No, they do not succeed even though these are most pleasing to Beazelbub and his cronies. One study on “resolutions” reached the following conclusion.

Throughout 2007, we tracked over 3000 people attempting to achieve a range of resolutions, including losing weight, visiting the gym, quitting smoking, and drinking less. At the start of the study, 52% of participants were confident of success. One year later, only 12% actually achieved their goal. 

Perhaps a different take on this effort will bear greater fruit and provide some eternal benefits? Resolve to pray for the Graces needed to maintain the virtues. Humility being the Capital virtue from which all others flow. The Humble knight does not lose weight and buff up “to get chicks” or preen in front of any mirror that he has occasion to cross, he loses weight by earnest fasting and practicing the regular denial of the charms of the food pyramid. This may sound strange even ridiculous to modern men but then that is the point and is also an indication of where most of us will start: with little or no humility. To get an audible grip on this concept consider the following 7 sermons from the world’s most accomplished Exorcist, Fr. Chad Ripperger, they are brief but cover the Graces needed to conquer the 7 Deadly Sins.

Seven_deadly_sin_Fr_Ripperger

We can contrast the pursuit of attaining the Graces to avoid the Deadly Sins as a lifelong resolution as described by Fr. Ripperger here and Sts. Augustine, Ambrose and Thomas Aquinas or we can take the advice of Stanley Kubrick and Stephen King by resolving to resolve by watching the movies “The Shining” and “Thinner” which will help us quit drinking and eating. The website that features a comprehensive list of resolution movies is rottentomatoes.com, note that there tongue in cheek introduction makes the case of the frivolity of it all, I made above.

“The holidays are behind us, 2013 is a memory, and a brand new year lies ahead — and for a lot of us, that means drawing up a list of resolutions that we all know we’ll probably end up breaking before St. Patrick’s Day.

In the spirit of the New Year, we’ve decided to round up a list of movies that correspond with some of the most popular resolutions.”

HISTORY OF THE NEW YEARS RESOLUTION

During the formation of Christendom a French tradition emerged that knights and other pious engaged in what were called the Chanson de gestes. These poems were performed orally at the start of a new year to challenge the secular lay people to change/amend their ways, something the Roman Catholic Church was also urging by it’s continuing of Christ’s ministry. One of these rose above others and became known as the “Vows of The Peacock” by Jacques de Longuyon of Lorraine.

The ancient "Nine Worthies", 3 Romans, 3 Gentiles and 3 Jews. The secular model for knighthood.
The ancient “Nine Worthies”, 3 Romans, 3 Gentiles and 3 Jews. The secular model for knighthood.

Longuyon was a promoter of what became known as the Nine Worthies, the secular, historical model of chivalry upon which a knight was to build his character. In the Middle Ages this is what secular men took “resolutions”, their longevity is a testament to their ephemeral results. While the knights and their chivalry faded away, the Church continued to inspire men and women to make “resolutions” of faith and piety that last til this day, we know the results and honor them as Saints and many of them were warriors when they needed to be. Consider the stories of El Cid, St Ferdinand the 3rd and St Martin to name a few.

In 19th century New Orleans, the New Years tradition of Twelfth Night was observed and to this day most people have no clue of what is being celebrated: The Epiphany of Our Lord. Consider the ancient words from the Epiphany Mass and you’ll see what a true act of alteration, not resolution, should entail.

Ab omni malo, libera nos, Domine.

From all evil, deliver us, O Lord.

That Thou wouldst pardon us, nos.

From all deadly sin,
From thine anger,
From sudden and unrepentant death, From the crafts and assaults of the devil, From anger, and hatred, and all uncharitableness,
From the spirit of fornication,
From lightning and tempest,
From the peril of earthquake, fire, and flood,
From pestilence, famine, and battle, From everlasting damnation,
By the mystery of Thy holy Incarnation

In our age of deceit and arrogance, we have been counseled that a simple “resolution” made on New Years Day is sufficient to alter our lives, ostensibly for the good of all.  But what good “to all” becomes of a resolution “to lose weight” or “quit smoking” unless that act is inspired, nay guided by the pursuit of virtue? St Thomas Aquinas pondered this very question in the Summa and counsels that ALL activities that are external, meaning to be witnessed by others, must be in pursuit of a virtue, otherwise they be sinful.

“Moral virtue consists in the things pertaining to man being directed by his reason. Now it is manifest that the outward movements of man are dirigible by reason, since the outward members are set in motion at the command of reason. Hence it is evident that there is a moral virtue concerned with the direction of these movements.”

Consider then that a New years “resolution” can be useful to the cultivation of our souls’ sanctification provided we pursue these “resolutions” as alterations of behavior in pursuit of virtue. Turning to St Thomas again, he draws on the wisdom of Sts. Augustine and Ambrose.

“As stated outward movements are indications of the inward disposition, and this regards chiefly the passions of the soul. Wherefore Ambrose says that “from these things,” i.e. the outward movements, “the man that lies hidden in our hearts is esteemed to be either frivolous, or boastful, or impure, or on the other hand sedate, steady, pure, and free from blemish.” It is moreover from our outward movements that other men form their judgment about us, according to Sirach 19:26, “A man is known by his look, and a wise man, when thou meetest him, is known by his countenance.” Hence moderation of outward movements is directed somewhat to other persons, according to the saying of Augustine in his Rule, “In all your movements, let nothing be done to offend the eye of another, but only that which is becoming to the holiness of your state.”

Consider that almost all New years “resolutions” concern mitigating things we take pleasure in such as gluttony or lust and their cure requires what we perceive to be pain.

“This regards pleasure or pain which may arise from words or deeds in reference to others with whom a man comes in contact. And, in so far as outward movements are signs of our inward disposition, their moderation belongs to the virtue of truthfulness, whereby a man, by word and deed, shows himself to be such as he is inwardly.”

Lastly, this approach to a “New Years Resolution” has a strong basis in history that is documented, the most profound example of which is the conversion of St Augustine. Father John A Hardon wrote of Augustine’s conversion as THE MODEL by which modern man SHOULD bases ours (I suggest reading Father Hardon’s entire homily, found here).

“Augustine’s problem before his conversion was not only that he was steeped in sin. It was that his mind defended his commission of sin. Therefore, in order to return to God, he had first to be convinced that he was a sinner. “My sin was all the more incurable because I thought I was not a sinner; and my iniquity was more execrable in that I would rather have you, God Almighty, vanquished in me to my destruction, than myself vanquished by you for my salvation.” (Confessions, 5, 10.)

To return to God, Augustine had to overcome two vices, the habit of wrong thinking and the habit of wrong doing. Yet both habits had a strong hold on his proud and passionate nature. He describes the power of these habits. “The law of sin (he confesses) is the fierce force of habit, by which the mind is drawn and held even against its will, and yet deservedly because it had fallen willfully into the habit.” (Confessions, 8, 5.)

In order to justify his misconduct, Augustine had become a Manichaean. This was the convenient heresy of claiming there were two gods. The evil god is responsible for all the evil that we do, and the good god is the only cause of everything good in our lives. On these premises, Augustine could attribute his life of sin to the evil deity and not feel guilty for all the wrong doing in his life.

He dates his conversion to the discovery he made that he, Augustine, had a free will. Once it dawned on him that he had the power to control his mind in what to think, and the power to control his will in what to choose, he was on his way back to the service of God.

On this level of his teaching, Augustine is a prophet for our times. There is so much learned justification of sin that whole philosophies have been created to defend man’s misconduct by shifting the blame on heredity, or environment or education. Anything, and anyone that human ingenuity can devise is said to be responsible for the evils in the world today — except the real agent of evil, which is man’s free will refusing to submit to the demanding will of God.”

This January 1st, therefore, resolve to be an Augustinian and perform a daily “examination of character” as suggested by St Alphonsus Ligouri

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About the author

Host of the Mike Church Show on The Veritas Radio Network's CRUSADE Channel & Founder of the Veritas Radio Network. Formerly, of Sirius/XM's Patriot channel 125. The show began in March of 2003 exclusively on Sirius and remains "the longest running radio talk show in satellite radio history".

Related Posts

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x