With the New Year now upon us and the passing of one penitential season (Advent) into another more foreboding penitential season (Lent begins February 22), suggested resolutions, intentions, goals, promises, sacrifices, and the like continue to fill our social media outlets and then some. The preachers, teachers, and pundits during these holy seasons rightly remind us and challenge us to focus on the ways and means to draw closer to Christ and His beloved Blessed Mother. In the public square, the so-called life coaches, motivational motivators, Ted Talkers, Tweeters, and sundry of self-help gurus tap into these holy seasons by offering endless plans for us to “once and for all change our lives forever!” What to do? For Christians, the particular disciplines of Lent and for that matter Advent and the New Year itself (after all, New Year’s Day is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God) can be more broadly characterized as an ongoing lifelong journey encompassing prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Perhaps, then, rather than merely gratuitously coming up with noble penitential acts and aspirations as these seasons begin – filled with feigned hopes of making it to the painstaking end of said seasons – perhaps instead we simply try to resolve to hold ourselves accountable throughout the whole glorious year. Accountability you say? Yes, accountability. Accountable to whom or to what? Well, to ourselves, standing before God and a heavenly army of saints and angels. The word “accountability” is actually much more edifying and meaningful than what moderns see it as – a convenient tool to scold one’s political and cultural enemies. Here’s a thought: Why not turn it on ourselves, hold ourselves accountable in matters of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving throughout the whole year? To that end, these Top Ten “Accountability Questions” might prove helpful. The background of these accountability questions are, frankly, unknown. Having recently moved from the Advent and Christmas season to Ordinary Time in the breviary, I came upon a small, worn piece of paper tucked in the fold. What a surprise! Curious, I took a look at it and, having now been personally held accountable, thought it was something to share. Sharing the pain as they say. Enjoy:
1. Have you spent daily time in prayer: Mass, Adoration, Rosary, Sacred Scripture, solid spiritual reading?
2. Have you had any deliberate flirtatious or lustful attitudes, or deliberately exposed yourself to any explicit materials which would not glorify God?
3. Have you been completely above reproach in any and all of your financial dealings?
4. Have you spent quality relationship time with family and/or friends?
5. Have you done your best in your school work, job, vocation, daily routine, etc
6. Have you told any half truths or outright lies, putting yourself in a better light to those around you?
7. Have you shared your faith with anyone this week?
8. Have you taken care of your body through daily physical exercise and proper eating and sleeping habits? Why not if not.
9. Have you allowed any person or circumstance to rob you of your peace or joy?
10. Have you lied to yourself on any of these answers today?
“Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall; so there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Therefore, I intend always to remind you of these things, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.” 2 Peter 1:10-11.