It’s that time of year again. Time to make a list of resolutions for the new year and forget about them before the month of January comes to an end. Or at least that’s how it usually goes for me. No matter what your resolutions are, if you take on too big of a change — or too many changes — it can be easy to quit. Or maybe you don’t buy into the whole New Year’s resolutions hoopla and would rather wait until Lent to focus on the changes you need to make. But January is an opportunity to improve not just your health or your spending habits, but your spiritual life as well.
There are countless spiritual resolutions to make for the new year, but picking just one or two is ideal so that you don’t become overwhelmed or start to feel like a failure if you miss them once or twice. Just remember to keep it simple at first, and as your resolutions turn into habits, you can add more.
Go to confession
Some of us don’t get to confession nearly enough. The new calendar year is your opportunity to get in the habit by setting aside the time to go. Find out when confession is offered at your parish or another local parish. If those times aren’t accessible to you, contact your pastor about scheduling a specific time for you to attend. Then stick to it. Put it on your calendar for bimonthly, once a month, every other month — whatever schedule will best ensure that you go to confession on a regular basis. If you’re nervous, remember that your priest has likely heard it all in confessions over the years and there are apps to help you get through it. Laudate is a great one.
Set a time each day to pray
Start small. If you haven’t been praying daily at all, set aside just five minutes during your favorite part of the day. If you already pray daily but feel like you can do more, than choose a time of day when you aren’t praying to add additional prayer time in. In the mornings you can say a prayer to start your day. At 3 o’clock you can try the Divine Mercy Chaplet. And of course, if you aren’t praying the rosary daily, you can add those 15 minutes in during your day even if it ends up being while you’re driving. If you really want to kick your prayer life into high gear, join the Nineveh 90 day challenge.
Celebrate feast days with the children
Take a look at a Catholic calendar and find some feast days to celebrate with your children. Start with your patron saints and find ways to make it fun for your children to learn about these saints. Websites like CatholicIcing.com offer great ideas from activities to recipes that bring Catholic saints to life for children. You can watch a video, draw a picture, or enjoy food from the country where your saint is from.
Participate in First Saturdays
We just celebrated the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima in 2017. One of the requests of Our Lady was that we participate in the Five First Saturdays which involves going to confession, receiving Holy Communion, saying five decades of the rosary, and mediating for 15 minutes on the mysteries of the rosary each first Saturday for five consecutive months.
Attend daily Mass
Daily Mass can be tricky when you work or have small children, but if you search you may be able to find a daily Mass that can work for you. While you likely won’t be able to attend each day unless you work from home and Mass begins after the children are in school, you can put it on your calendar for once a month or once a week and make an effort to go. First Friday is a good way to start as there are often Masses at noon.
Bring a friend to Sunday Mass
One of the recent requests of our pastor is that we bring a friend to Mass. Whether the person is a former Catholic, a Catholic who has strayed, or someone who has never been to Catholic Mass or any church service whatsoever, it is an important part of being Catholic to evangelize. Helping someone to see the beauty of the Catholic faith can help reignite your own faith and remind you of why you are Catholic.
Renew your baptismal vows
Kick off the new year by renewing your baptismal promises with your family. It’s easy, you can do it within your own home, and it will remind you of what it is to be a Catholic. It might just be the boost you need to be a more spiritual person in 2018.
One small step toward improving your spiritual life is all you need to become a stronger Catholic in the new year. And with each step you take, you can follow it up with another when you’re ready. Have a happy new year and may God bless you in 2018!