This listening process can help us shift from adopting a conventional New Year's resolution to a way of cooperating with life-giving grace in the past year. It can help move us from a more self-focused determination to a greater responsiveness to the Spirit - to what God is doing in our lives.
This prayerful listening is best experienced in three steps, one each day for three days:
DAY 1 - Step 1: Listening for Life-Giving Graces (15-20')
- I ask for the gift of listening.
- I let my mind freely recall significant memories of the past year (without having to be comprehensive).
- I pay attention to any experience that helped me GROW spiritually, particularly in becoming more:
- fully alive (more accepting of my own dreams, desires, frailty, suffering, brokenness, or limitations)
- truly myself (allowing myself to be fully seen, accepted or forgiven)
- interiorly free (less attached to people and things I care passionately about)
- self-giving (generous, sacrificing, etc.)
- receptive to mercy or tenderness
- With each event, I reflect on: What happened? Who was involved? How was I affected or changed? How was God caring for me, loving me, inviting me to grow (even through painful or difficult moments)?
- I talk to God as if with a close friend about what emerges within me, listening to what this friend may want to communicate with me.
DAY 2 - Step 2: Choosing a Concrete Response (10-12')
- I ask for the grace to listen more deeply.
- I reflect on any life-giving graces I have observed in the past year, noticing any reoccurring pattern of growth.
- I listen and speak to God about any of my habits or virtues that has helped in this growth, and how I can better cooperate with God.
- I ask to see any area of struggle, unhealthy habit or attachment, that God may invite me to look into more carefully and humbly.
- With God, I choose 1-2 concrete growth action(s) or behavior(s). This could be a new or a forgotten/neglected habit.
DAY 3 - Step 3: Seeking Confirmation (5-7')
- I ask for the grace to confirm my decision to grow with God.
- I bring to awareness the 1-2 growth habit(s) or action(s) I considered cultivating yesterday.
- As I imagine living out that habit for the next 3 weeks, do I experience:
- Being energized or drained?
- Greater freedom (willingness) or more should'ing (willfulness)
- Consolation (moving toward God, peace, love) or Desolation (moving away from God to more dis-ease & fearfulness)?
- I thank God for confirming my choice or ask God to help me choose a better response.