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Already failed at New Year’s resolutions? Try confession!

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Katrina Fernandez - published on 01/17/17

Catholics were resolving to do better before it was cool


Every year I make New Year’s resolutions and by the end of the month I’ve already failed at them. It’s such a bad way to start a new year. Do you have any advice on how to keep resolutions all year long?



Dear Angela,

If you don’t want to break your New Year’s resolutions then simply don’t make any.

I’ve often said that as Catholics we have the opportunity to start anew every time we receive the sacrament of Penance. Fresh starts and opportunities for personal growth are available to us every week, making annual resolutions seem superficial in comparison. After all, New Year’s resolutions are just promises we make to ourselves to modify certain undesirable  behaviors. The same could be said of confession; where we examine our sins, seek forgiveness, and promise to try to sin no more.      

“I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.” – Act of Contrition

But resolutions aren’t the same as sins, you may say. Resolving to get more organized or lose weight isn’t a sin to confess.

Yes, but sloth and gluttony are. There is sin rooted at all our vices. We can’t modify our behavior by just promising ourselves we will do better and try harder. True change and personal growth, the kind that sticks around longer than a month, comes when we examine the root of our behavior, seek to correct that root and not just the symptom, and acknowledge no improvements in our lives can be made without the aid and grace of Christ. New Year’s resolutions have nothing on the Catholic faith. Catholics were resolving to do better before it was cool.

However, I realize I can’t convince everyone to give up the practice of making New Year’s resolutions, I can at least make some suggestions on coping with missteps.

If you mess up, don’t take it personally and beat yourself up as a failure. Acknowledge you’re human and not exempt from error. Allow some room for forgiveness and just try again. Maybe break your resolutions up into monthly goals so as not to overwhelm. And of course, incorporate your faith into resolution practices because what’s the point of outwardly change without lasting internal spiritual growth?  

Read more…5 Questions you need to ask yourself every day

Read more…Try “The Yearly Examen”: A spiritual exercise for a better 2017

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