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Planning to start a diet in the New Year is so not original. Plus they usually don’t work, at least not permanently. Have you failed already, only one day in?
When thinking about how we can better ourselves in the coming year, spiritual resolutions should be at the top of our list. They can bring the most significant change, and permanent ones at that.
Spiritual resolutions benefit ourselves and those around us, and carry eternal consequences. What could be more worthwhile?
The best part about spiritual resolutions is that they can be simple. Try these:
Start the day with the Morning Offering
This prayer sets the tone for the whole day, and gives to God the entire day in advance. I love it that anything even slightly worthwhile I do that day is used for the intentions listed in the prayer, without my even thinking about it again. It’s a way of joining our work and suffering with that of Christ, and participating in the salvation of others.
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, for the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins, the reunion of all Christians, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father this month. Amen.
The Morning Offering is the first email I open each day. You can follow prayer for each morning at Aleteia here.
Read some good (Catholic) books this year
Have you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church? It sat on my shelf for several years because I wrongly assumed it would bore me to tears. When I finally picked it up, I found clarification for a number of things I had just accepted but didn’t understand. The Catechism provides the reasons behind our beliefs, the explanation for specific doctrine. It can even be read online. “In reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we can perceive the wonderful unity of the mystery of God … — Pope John Paul II
Check out a wide range of recommendations here.
Find a prayer group
Most parishes have at least one or two prayer groups. It could be a Legion of Mary group, a Bible study, or a Padre Pio group that meets at the rectory. Or a Rosary group that meets weekly at someone’s home. Find one that fits your schedule. Meeting and praying with other Catholics who want to strengthen their faith and knowledge can be a strong support to your spiritual life. If your parish doesn’t have such a group, check other parishes in your diocese.
Get involved in something
When we give of our time, talent, or treasure, we’re participating in building up the kingdom of God. You’ve heard the expression, “not everyone can do everything, but everyone can do something.” Do you have a few hours a week to be a faith formation teacher, or maybe a substitute? Could you get involved with the bereavement committee, respect life ministry, food pantry, choir, RCIA? You’ll find your faith strengthened while you assist others and promote Catholic values.
Go on a retreat
If you’ve never gone on a retreat before, maybe now’s the time! Recharge your spiritual batteries, be renewed and inspired in a peaceful, prayerful setting. Parish bulletins often announce local retreats; your diocesan website probably offers information on the where and when, as well as any particular focus of upcoming retreats. Some retreats are three or four days; others are a single day or even a morning. Some dioceses have their own retreat center; other retreats are offered at seminaries, or parish centers. Again, asking your Catholic friends or pastor can get you a recommendation for something that fits your interests and schedule.
Do the Nightly Examen
This prayer popularized by St. Ignatius is reflection on the day. In reviewing our day, we give thanks for blessings received, pause to see God’s hand in our life, acknowledge areas we need to “do better,” and ask for His guidance for the next day. The examen prayer can be found here.