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FAITH AND CULTURE | Living our truth in Christ

Our focus on resolutions and aspirations is a characteristic sign that personal transformation and renewal is unfolding. In times of personal renewal, we reflect on what has transpired and look forward to emerging possibilities. An abundance of discernment and advice from others can further our intentions to do better. For example, we can find plenty of recommended resolutions, as well as discover much guidance showing us how to persist in them.

We each have our ways of discerning what aspirations to embrace and the best ways of achieving them. More to the point, each of us brings who we are — our personalities — to this common human experience and need for renewal. We connect our aspirations to practical dimensions of life that have meaning for us. These dimensions are often related to issues of health, work, finance, relationships, play and spirituality.

From a faith perspective, our aspirations to grow in these dimensions of our life also find support. In this regard, setting practical goals is helpful, especially as we envision integrating our spiritual interests and truths into who we desire to become. It’s not difficult, then, to see how we each have truths and aspirations informing and guiding our steps toward greater spiritual growth. However, as is the case with any other aspect of life, experience teaches us that identifying goals for our spiritual renewal will require prayerful discernment and guidance.

Moreover, our discernment requires some degree of self-transcendence and objectivity. Depending on where we may be on our personal faith journey, different truths and spiritual interests emerge as more urgent than others. So having a community of faith that can guide our steps forward is helpful and necessary. For Catholics whose identity and spiritual priorities are connected to faith, living spiritual interests is never far from the person of Christ and the wisdom of the Church.

We know that our human aspirations and actions find their ultimate meaning in the grace given to us by the Lord: “Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24). The idea of embracing our moments of renewal from the heart and with the Lord in mind can be helpful, even if the practice of total surrender to the Lord takes us a lifetime to embrace.

As we discern our spiritual growth amidst competing truths and aspirations, living our truth in Christ offers us real possibilities and considerations. We can turn to the lives of the saints; and in them find the needed inspiration and exhortation. Likewise, we can intentionally make room for the word of God in our busy schedules or recognize the Lord more clearly in the ordinary providential encounters with others.

It’s worth remembering that while not every intention will be reached to perfection or to our liking, we can take great consolation in knowing that our aspirations are not in vain: “Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy. We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works…[and] encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing close” (Hebrews 10: 23-25). Let us look beyond our simple wants to the beloved community around us for the mutual encouragement, guidance and hope we need for living in Christ.

Javier Orozco is the executive director of human dignity and intercultural affairs for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

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