The New Year is upon us and it is the perfect time to make your New Year’s Resolutions. Most people set physical (“I will actually go to the gym!”) and financial goals (“The year will be the year that I’m going to budget!”), but what about your spiritual goals?
Our TCG article list article “21 Things Every Catholic Home Must Have This Christmas (And Where To Get Them)” was a huge hit, so we thought it would a good idea to provide our recommendations of practical ways for Catholics to get their spiritual life back on track with 9 New Year’s Resolutions. Here goes!
1. Pray The Liturgy Of The Hours: The Liturgy of the Hours is the prayer of the Church, and is literally being prayed at every hour of every day. It unites us in prayer with the Holy Father, bishops, priests and religious, and lay faithful throughout the world. (If you’re not familiar with this form of prayer, check out this guide by Philip eogosloski: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying the Liturgy of the Hours
There are a number of resources to pray the liturgy of the hours, including smartphone apps and websites. If you’re looking for the actual physical copy, you can get the full, Liturgy of the House (4-Volume Set) for about $130 or the simple version, Christian Prayer (Catholic) which is only about $30.
Are you willing to pray the Liturgy of the Hours?
2. Go To Daily Mass: Unless you grew up going to Mass during the week, it’s probably less likely that you attend Mass on days other than Sundays. For some folks, it’s less likely with work schedules and family commitments that getting to a daily Mass is possible. Depending on where you live in the country, there typically are morning Masses celebrated before work, and evening Masses celebrated in the evening throughout the week. Some metropolitan places even have Masses around noontime.
The same Eucharist that is celebrated on Sunday, is available throughout the week as well. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, and the closest that we can get to God here on earth. If it is possible, try to make it to Mass more often than your obligation, and watch how the grace of receiving the Lord more often begins to transform your life.
For Mass times, you can visit your parish’s website or look in the bulletin, or find Mass in your surrounding times at www.MassTimes.org.
What day during the week could you go to Mass?
3. Schedule Prayer Time: A wise man once said, “if you want to get something accomplished, set up a meeting with yourself, put it on the calendar, and show up.” We can apply this same idea to our prayer life. The hustle and bustle of our daily lives sometimes can distract us from having daily conversation with God.
We have found that when you actually build prayer time into your schedule, you’re more likely to follow through with reading scripture or spiritual books, journaling, or even going down to your parish for Mass or Adoration. If you’re someone that has a difficult time staying disciplined, we recommend putting reminders in your phone to pray (the same way you’d put an alarm on). It is as if you have your own personal assistant to help you remember to pray during the day.
Another good way to remember is simply actually using sticky notes and putting them in places that you’d see them throughout the day — your car, you bathroom mirror, on t
he side door of a kitchen cabinet, or inside a workbook. Whatever method works for you, make sure it is something that will give you the best chance of following through.
If you are looking for an amazing, Catholic journal, we strongly recommend the Every Sacred Sunday Journal.
When can you schedule prayer into your day?
4. Join A Ministry: There are a number of ways that you can get involved in Church ministry and to use your gifts and talents to serve others. Whether you are passionate about:
- music ministry (singing in the choir or joining the parish contemporary band),
- liturgical ministries (altar serving, ushering, lectoring),
- talking about your faith (pre-cana, RCIA),
- mentoring and teaching (youth ministry, religious education),
- serving others other in outreach (baking and cooking/delivering meals, food or clothing drives, etc.),
- fellowship (Knights of Columbus, Women’s Ministry,
- prayer (Rosary Society, Respect Life)
there is a place for you. Perhaps this year can be the year that you step up and serve in your parish in a way that fits you and helps bring about the Kingdom on earth.
What ministry would you be willing to try out?
5. Increase Charitable Giving: This can be a sensitive topic because many people are in different places, financially, and some have more to give than others. As a general rule, Catholics are called to tithe, which literally means to give one-tenth (10%) of annual produce or earnings, to the support of the Church. This can come in the form of 5% to your local parish, and 5% to worthy charitable causes. We don’t believe the tithing is a salvation issue, but rather an invitation to respond to the generosity that God has blessed us with.
There are a number of ways to give, and we don’t directly endorse any specific charities, however I think he takeaway is that it is good to give as much as your able, and each year it is good to reevaluate and prayerfully consider how much you could be giving.
What adjustments do you need to make in your tithing this year?
6. Reach Out To A “Fallen Away” Friend Or Family Member: At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus commissioned his followers to go make disciples.
“The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20
How blessed are we that we recognize God’s love and trust in it enough to follow Him? By virtue of our baptism, we’ve been commissioned as well to spread the Good News and to bring others to experience the mercy of God. There are people in our lives that, for one reason or another, have fallen away from their faith. In a nonjudgmental, loving way, this year could be the year to have that conversation, to ask them how they’re doing in their relationship with the Lord, and invite them back. Maybe it is best to start by asking them to lunch, or casually broaching the topic. We believe the Holy Spirit will give you the words if you are willing to initiate the conversation.
Who can you reach out to and bring back to Church?
7. Pray The Rosary…More: This one is another discipline that, unless you did it regularly as one point in your life, it might require a mental adjustment to consider the idea of praying the Rosary daily. Sadly, many Catholic never pray the Rosary. Our Lady of Fatima has asked us to pray the Rosary daily, and for good reason. Not only is it good to pray for our intentions, it is especially important to pray for the conversion of our loved ones, neighbors, and people throughout the world.
A spiritual director once said that if you are to pray at all, start with the Eucharist and Mary. Mary was the most inited with Christ on earth, and sits enthroned with her Son in Heaven forever. Jesus offered His mother, Mary, to the Church as our Heavenly Mother, so we turn to her with our needs and entrust ourselves to her intercession.
There are many resources online and on Youtube for how to pray the Rosary, and there are evening organizations (Church Pop) that pray the Rosary online live. As we said in point 3, it is good to schedule time to pray, and the Rosary can be recited anywhere — on the way to work, laying in bed, on the treadmill or on a lunch break.
If you’re looking to buy a new, beautiful and quality Rosary, we strongly suggest buying a custom Rosary through Keogler Studios (and you can use the promo code: TCG10 for 10% off your order total at Keogler Studios).
Will you make the Rosary apart of your daily prayer life this year?
8. Forgive Someone: Oddly enough, this one is possibly the hardest resolution on our list. Throughout our lives, there have been family members or friends, bosses or co-workers, neighbors or people in our community that have hurt us. Our fallen human nature has made it essential impossible to avoid experiencing disappointment and pain as the result of sinfulness. The baggage that we carry throughout can cripple us and damage our hearts in ways that only God can restore.
Forgiveness is not a feeling, but rather an act of the will. In time, we rely on God’s grace to ease the feelings that may linger. Most importantly, we have to make the conscious decision to offer forgiveness, not just for the other person, but for us as well.
The Lord works in mysterious ways, and we learn from Christ’s example on the cross. Forgiveness may involve pain, however, in the end, our faithfulness to mirror God’s example make us more like Him, and ultimately prepare us best for our eternal life with Him.
Who do you need to forgive this year?
9. Go To Confession Once A Month: Confession is not an obligation, but rather an invitation to seek God’s forgiveness. The Sacrament of Reconciliation gives us the grace to stay in union with God and to have a clean heart. We must surrender our pride to kneel before God and say that we’ve messed up and we need Him to restore us.
Most parishes offer Confession at least on a weekly basis, but so few take advantage of the opportunity. Priests are ordained to administer this Sacrament of healing, and most people don’t release that you can usually schedule an appointment with a priest to have your confession heard.
These are 2 things we hear a lot as reasons why people don’t go to confession are:
- I don’t know the Act of Contrition
- Did you know that you don’t need to have the Act of Contrition memorized? You can simply say that you’re sorry, or, if you prefer to stay true to form, you can ask the priest to help you say it. You can find a printed copy of the Act of Contrition in the church missalette, online, or the magnificat prayer companion.
- I don’t know what my sins are
- There are many ways to look deeper into our hearts to find the ways that we have acted in ways to separate us from God. Chiefly, a good examination of conscience is helpful. You can also just ask the priest to help you, and that usually is all you’ll need.
When will you go to Confession again?
So, these are 9 New Year’s Resolutions For Catholics that we think will help you jumpstart your spiritual journey and set the tone for the coming months to be best connected to Christ and His Church.
If you have any additional suggestions, we invite you to e-mail them to us at TopCatholicGifts@gmail.com, or putting them in the comments section below!