Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

Old-Time Catholic New-Year Resolutions

By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky ( bio - articles - email ) | Jan 02, 2024

The old manuals instructed a priest to be “a lion from the pulpit and a lamb in the confessional.” In today’s culture, many people expect their priests to be lambs from the pulpit. (And good fundraisers.) No need to roar, but how about a few thoughts from that old-time Catholic religion?

Families form the foundation of cultures and of the Church. Even priests, bishops, and popes learn from their families. The Bible and Church teachings provide New Year resolutions for a healthy and happy family life.

Honor the indissolubility of the marriage of man and woman. Jesus teaches, “What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” (Mt. 19:6) “’For I hate divorce,’ says the LORD the God of Israel.” (Mal. 2:16)

Cultivate family gatherings. Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth. Mary and Jesus helped celebrate the wedding feast at Cana. Jesus enjoyed the company of families. Establish, maintain, and blend wholesome family traditions on both sides of the marriage aisle.

Children—honor, respect, and obey your parents. Even Jesus obeyed the Fourth Commandment.

Do not commit adultery. Jesus says, “Everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt. 5:28) Avoid the occasions of sin on the job and the internet. Hate pornography. The images are usually of young, exploited women. Consider how those poor women are abused and hooked on drugs. Many of them are dead by the time their images appear on websites. They are daughters and sisters, children of God. Consider the black stain of mortal sin and eternal damnation. Get the help of Confession. And we could all do with practices of self-denial to maintain self-control. Do we really think that pornography brings happiness to our lives and marriages? Pornography is “impure,” not merely “inappropriate.”

Oppose unlawful Catholic marriages. Don’t be mean, be firm. “Sorry, my dear daughter, I love you very much, but I cannot attend your unlawful marriage. Yes, I realize I’m judgmental (if you choose to weaponize that word), but I’ll try to be like Jesus after He rescued the woman caught in adultery from stoning: “Has no one condemned you?... Neither do I condemn you; go, and [sin no more].’” (Jn. 8:10-11)

Be “judgmental.” We need sufficient evidence to make judgments. So, we cannot judge a man’s soul, only his actions. Stopped for speeding, we wouldn’t say, “Officer, don’t be judgmental!” We’d pay the ticket. When a wayward family member uses “judgmental” as a stun gun to shame those who disapprove of a sinful lifestyle or a morally unlawful marriage outside the Church, reject the intimidation. Respond, “And your point is?” Now for some old-time religious resolutions for modern times:

  • Work within, not against, natural hierarchies to resolve many conflicts. Father is the head of the household and deserves respect; mother is the heart and must be honored. Children are subordinate to both. Cooperation and complementary offer flourishing; conflict breeds contempt.
  • Listen to experience. Spoiled kids begin as little darlings. Grouchy grandparents aren’t always wrong.
  • Pray together and stay together. The marriage covenant participates in the New and Everlasting Covenant of the Family of God. Bring your family to Mass. Pray the family rosary. A family that also dines together stays together. Experience suggests children who leave the Catholic Church often do so because of the absence of their fathers (despite devout mothers).
  • Place God and family first. We old folks tend to blame young people for their moral mess. However, parents often delegate their responsibilities to a politically correct school system. We would do well to look in the mirror—and the confessional screen—and accuse ourselves of failing our kids.
  • Forget your email when you have a family dispute. Email dogfights cannot replace facial expressions, intonation, and real-time adjustments and corrections.
  • When you find marital love is getting a little stale, remember the love of your life, your bride, your groom. Bear with their faults and work hard to protect that marriage bond.
  • Treat holy and intimate matters with pious delicacy. Let’s not joke about God. Speak of Our Lady with the utmost respect.
  • Treat the marital embrace with modesty. Draw a veil on the details between husband and wife. Vulgarity degrades holy things, and children brought up surrounded by vulgarity will not be formed for a life in which they can find a spouse and raise children in a wholesome way.
  • Mothers, give your girls an example of modesty.
  • Do not intrude on the sacred privacy of your spouse in matters of Confession. Don’t push that “soulmate” business too far.
  • Denounce the abuse and cruelty of contraception and the barbarism of abortion and in-vitro fertilization. Have more affection for babies than those darling puppies.
  • Respect the marriage bond: Boy meets girl. They fall in love. They get engaged, get married, they go on their honeymoon, and babies are born—in that order. Disrespect for the marriage bond before marriage engenders disrespect for the marriage bond after marriage. Sometimes women are the last to figure this out. Hollywood immorality kills happiness.
  • Never use politically charged words such as “gay” or “LGBTQ,” except with quotation marks. Don’t give verbal legitimacy to unholy and bizarre behavior.
  • Never trust anyone in the hierarchy who blesses “same-sex couples.”
  • Don’t reward those who tell you what you want to hear. Most folks disdain those who hold fast to the truth of Catholic marriage and family. It’s easy to humiliate them.

Agitated voices may object: “Don’t you read the news about the Church? Physician, heal thyself!” Point taken. But here’s a good rule: If you bash evil priests, bishops, and popes, don’t fail to confront the immoral family paradigms that breed and even encourage their doctrinal and moral errors. Scandal is a two-way street, and we all fall short of God’s truth.

God brings us peace through good (and riotous) families and the Family of God. Have a firm resolve—be charitable and honest, don’t panic, take correction as necessary, and stay the course. The new year could use a good dose of that old-time Catholic religion.

Fr. Jerry Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington who has also served as a financial administrator in the Diocese of Lincoln. Trained in business and accounting, he also holds a Master of Divinity and a Master’s in moral theology. Father Pokorsky co-founded both CREDO and Adoremus, two organizations deeply engaged in authentic liturgical renewal. He writes regularly for a number of Catholic websites and magazines. See full bio.

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