Engaging the Senses: Ideas for Spiritual Resolutions

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Most of us are familiar with the adage, “you are what you eat.” Often, that phrase is used by those explaining their decision to change or modify their diets and to pay close attention healthy eating. Other phrases, such as, “your body is a temple of the Lord,” convey the same type of message — encouraging individuals to be aware of not only what they consume, but also bringing the faith-based message of caring for our bodies.

Many times, those with resolutions regarding body image, exercise, and diet can be found packing the gyms within days of a new year, determined to meet their resolution for the year. Some will be successful in carrying their resolution to fruition. Others may not be as successful, as they begin to face the crazy, unplanned, hectic nature of life, injuries, or other reasons which sideline them from the gym.

However, others still do not settle on a resolution. They dismiss the notion of resolutions altogether, and instead continue to move forward, stuck in their original pattern of life.

The more I considered resolutions this year, the more the quote, “You are what you eat,” began to infiltrate my thoughts. However, it wasn’t the typical notion of eating which consumed me.

Instead, I began focusing on the other diets in our lives. The ones which are not as tangible as the food we put into our bodies.

I got a gnawing sensation of something bigger, something greater, something more spiritual hidden within the meaning of that phrase.

What if our bodies are greater than the food we eat?

St. Augustine is credited with saying, “Take care of your body as if you were going to live forever, and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow.” While taking care of our bodies encompasses working out, watching our nutrition and dietary lifestyle, and attending routine doctor’s appointments on schedule, how many of us are truly remembering to take care of our souls?

How many of us decided on a spiritual resolution for this year, with a focus on our immortal souls? If you haven’t yet, it is not too late to create a spiritual resolution for this year!

I wrote about one shortly after Christmas – reading through the Gospels, but more importantly, allowing the Gospels to truly change our lives. However, that is a pretty daunting, tall order, especially if one is not used to reading the Bible daily.

So, if reading the Gospels daily isn’t quite your cup of tea, what other options are out there for creating spiritual resolutions?

Our bodies are gifted with five senses: touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste. “You are what you eat” tackles the sense of taste. There are many ways this sense can be addressed: choosing a new day to fast, remembering the point of fasting is to spend that time concentrating on your relationship with God. There is also abstaining from foods you enjoy, offering up the sacrifice for other souls, whether they are ones you know or not. Taste also addresses complaints — eating something you dislike, but refraining from complaining, while concentrating on God’s provision for your life.

Yet, there are four other senses which can be used to address a spiritual resolution.

The Catholic Church, in her wisdom, shares with us the Corporal Works of Mercy, allowing us to touch the world: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the prisoners, bury the dead, give alms to the poor. These are tangible ways in which we touch our neighbors, and the world. We bless the world when we perform an act of mercy. If you are searching for a way to tap into a touching sense as part of a New Year’s Resolution, then consider choosing one Corporal Work of Mercy to focus on for 2018.

At the end of a long day, at the completion of an even longer week, what is one of your favorite activities? If you answer settling in to watch some television, you wouldn’t be alone! Snuggling into a comfy chair, adult beverage in one hand, a book to read in the other is also a common answer to the question. However, how many of us are watching quality, soul-uplifting television shows or movies? How many of us are engaging in a little “light” spiritual reading? If you are trying to find an activity to engage your visual part of a spiritual resolution, it begins with what we see: are we watching clean television and movies? Are we reading works which are good for our soul? Find the time to create a little more holiness in what you are watching or reading this 2018.

Our world is in a constant rush. And, we are bombarded daily with noise — a lot of noise which, if we attempted to silence it, would not be missed. Then, there is the noise which draw us closer to God — the laughter of small children, the cry of a baby needing to be fed, the request for the hundredth snack as children are home from school for another inclement weather day. When there is silence, many times parents are quick to fill that void by turning on the music. What about that music you listen to during the times where there is no noise? If you are a person who loves to listen to music, consider switching all your music for 2018 to Christian music. Explore Christian artists, and dive deeply into the messages of faith, hope, love, and redemption hidden in their lyrics. There are Christian — even Catholic Christian — artists which are present in every genre. Do a little research for your genre of choice, or consider switching up your genre entirely, and actively decide to listen to purely Christian music in the rare silence of your life during 2018.

Smell can be a tricky sense to tackle when addressing spiritual resolutions. If you are someone who loves incense, consider using incense during a prayer time in your home each week throughout the year. If you are a person who cannot stand the smell of incense, consider the few times it is used in a Novus Ordo Mass during the year, and instead of complaining about the smell, offer your complaints to God — bask in the smell, simply to allow your mind to drift closer to God as you speak with Him. Some families follow the liturgical calendar and make food which correlate to which special saints’ days fall during the year. If you are a family who celebrates saints’ days in style, consider the meal you are making for the family — and offer a conscious prayer as you inhale the aroma. Allow the scents you experience in 2018 to lead you to a more interior life of prayer this year.

"Engaging the Senses" by Annaliese Harry (CatholicMom.com)

Copyright 2018 AnnAliese Harry. Created in Canva. All rights reserved.

St. Teresa of Avila is credited with reminding us, “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth, but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks compassion into the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world.

It’s not too late to consider a spiritual resolution for 2018. Just as our bodies depend on us to maintain a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle, our souls depend on us to maintain a proper disposition bent toward God. As much as we focus on the taste portion of our bodies, so too, should we focus on the other four senses. We don’t have to tackle everything at once. In fact, we don’t have to perfectly achieve success in any one sense.

What we are asked to do is strive for perfection, and to recognize we are all saints in the making. We are called to recognize we will have challenges, but those challenges don’t give us an excuse to quit trying. Instead, they are a call to lead us in a more creative way to a deeper relationship with God. While we focus as intimately on the food and lifestyle we lead, we are called to also remember our goal of working toward everlasting life with our Father, who is in Heaven.

Which sense will you work to engage this 2018? What ways can you consider engaging the spiritual aspect of the senses of touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste this 2018?


Copyright 2018 AnnAliese Harry

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About Author

AnnAliese Harry is a proud Army wife to her husband Chris, and a mother to their young children. She has a BA in History, a Masters in Social Work, and has worked with disabled veterans, troubled teens, and in early childhood intervention therapy. AnnAliese volunteers with several military chapel communities and serves as a lector, EMHC, Adoration coordinator, and Catholic Women of the Chapel (CWOC) chapter president and vice president. She blogs about Catholicism, parenting, and military life at A Beautiful, Camouflaged Mess of A Life. Follow her on Twitter, on Instagram, or on Facebook.

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