As the new year begins, many people take a little time to reflect on what they would like to change about themselves and their lives. Some may decide to adjust their eating habits or exercise more; others may resolve to work on getting rid of a bad habit.
But the most important New Year's resolutions we can make are those that focus on our spiritual lives, those that will help us grow closer to God throughout the new year.
#1 – Pray more. We can always pray more. Even if we only add a heartfelt, loving Our Father to our prayers every day, we will grow closer to God. Resolve, perhaps, to greet God first thing in the morning and offer yourself to Him. Then stop a few times during the day (no matter how busy you get) to say a quick prayer and remember the One Who is with you always. Take a few moments at night as you're going to bed to examine your conscience, ask for forgiveness for your failures, and commend yourself into God's hands for the night.
#2 – Read Scripture. Select a Gospel or one of Paul's letters to read slowly and meditatively each week or even each month. A few verses a day will do to start if you allow God's words sink into your heart. Or you might decide to study the daily Mass readings, which are available on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.
#3 – Learn more about your Catholic faith. Read selections from the Catechism. Challenge yourself to a theology book, perhaps something by Scott Hahn or Brant Pitre. Watch a few videos at the Institute of Catholic Culture library. Participate in an online study from the St. Paul Center. The deeper you delve, the more your faith will come alive and the more you'll understand exactly what God has done for His children.
#4 – Get to know the saints. Has your saint chosen you yet in this new year? Use the Saint's Name Generator to find your saint and then take some time to learn about him or her. You might even study some of your saints writings (if any). Then make a habit to ask that saint to intercede for you.
#5 – Immerse yourself in the sacraments. Go to Mass more often if you can, and whenever you go to Mass, strive to be fully present and fully involved. Greet Jesus with great love when He comes to you in Holy Communion. Prepare your heart for Him by going to Confession more often and receiving the great graces He offers you. If you must, receive the Anointing of the Sick for physical and spiritual healing according to God's will. Pray for those who will be baptized, confirmed, married, or ordained this year.
Yes, all of this certainly takes effort, but if we resolve to improve other areas of our lives, we must certainly strive to grow in our spiritual lives. After all, that effort, combined with the grace of God, will last into eternity.
Happy New Year!