A Resolution to Make Haste Slowly

Happy New Year! By now, you have likely considered a new year’s resolution and maybe even tried a few.  If I’m honest, I have a long history of falling headfirst off the new year’s resolution wagon by about January 2nd.  

I tend not to follow through on new year’s resolutions because my resolutions are usually completely arbitrary and decided hastily at about 11:00pm on December 31st. Instead of being intentional about what I should do each year, I tend to toss around ideas, both noble and not-so-noble, about what I could do:  Keto diet! Volunteer for the PTA. Organize my closet. The list of good ideas goes on and on.  

Unfortunately, an arbitrary resolution, even a decision to do something good, is not necessarily the right resolution. So if you haven’t already, I propose that we re-examine our resolutions and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance on what we should resolve to do this year. To this end, I’d like to invite you to take a walk with one of my favorite saints today: St. Katharine Drexel. Katharine’s life provides a great guide for discerning resolutions, and really, any decision in your life.

Katharine was born into a wealthy Philadelphia family and had the financial means and influence to do almost anything she wanted. But she did not take action arbitrarily. People around her urged her to do all kinds of good things:  get married; use her fortune for philanthropies; become a cloistered nun; or live a single life in service to the poor. However, Katharine’s spiritual director urged her to “festina lente” – make haste slowly. Festina lente – I find these words encouraging in the new year. Take time to choose the good to which God calls you.   

Always drawn to serve the poor, in 1887, Katharine attended a private audience with Pope Leo XIII and urged him to send missionary priests to the United States to Native Americans.  He responded, “Why not my child, yourself become a missionary?” This interaction helped to lead Katharine to her vocation. But Katharine made haste slowly. It was not until four years later, in 1891, that she became a missionary and founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. She subsequently spent her life supporting missions and schools throughout the United States. In all, she and her sisters established 145 missions, 50 schools for African Americans, and 12 schools for Native Americans. Some described her as an “apostle to the poor.”

Katharine took time to discern how God wanted her to live out her vocation. What would have happened if Katharine had jumped at all of the ideas that she could have done, instead of truly discerning what God asked of her?     

Meditating on Katharine Drexel clarifies my new year’s resolution, or at least my approach to it. My resolution is a prayer to festina lente – to make haste slowly – to avoid that instinct to accomplish all the things I could do, and instead, listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit that reveal the things I should strive to accomplish.  

2022 is still new, and as the adage goes, it takes 21 days to form a habit. St. Katharine Drexel, perfected her vocation of missionary service through over fifty years of active ministry.  I’m going to need more than 21 days and a lot more practice to festina lenta. Did you plunge headfirst into an arbitrary resolution or are you still looking for that perfect resolution? If so, perhaps you could make haste slowly with me.

Contact the author

Elizabeth Tomlin is the author of Joyful Momentum: Building and Sustaining Vibrant Women’s Groups and contributing author to the Ave Prayer Book for Catholic Mothers. She is General Counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. Elizabeth is an Army wife and mother of three and currently lives in the DC area. She blogs at JoyfulMomentum.org or @elizabethannetomlin on social media.

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