So you’ve vowed to up your intake of vegetables and have signed up for gym to kick off the New Year. But has your spiritual life been part of your New Year’s resolutions? Here are a few ideas of small, practical steps you can take to get spiritually stronger in 2015.
1. Daily Mass. If you don’t go at all, try going one day a week. If you go one day a week, try two. If you go every day….well, good job.
“The best way to economize time is to ‘lose’ half an hour each day attending Holy Mass.” – Frederic Ozanam
2. Pray a daily rosary. My favorite times to get my daily rosary in are in the car or while walking outside. If I try to do it right before bed I end up falling asleep. Find what works for you.
3. Memorize a weekly bible verse. Write it on a post-it note and stick it on your desk for the week.
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” – Matthew 4:4.
4. Visit an adoration chapel once a week, even if it’s just for five minutes.
“We represent those in the world who do not know Jesus during our Holy Hour in Adoration.” – St. John Paul II
5. Register at a parish. My generation (looking at you millennials!) is notorious for parish hopping and being non-committal when it comes to parishes. However, it’s much better for community-building if we commit. Let’s do this.
Give to your (newly-registered-at) parish. God will bless your generosity, I guarantee.
“Do not appear before the Lord empty-handed, for all that you offer is in fulfillment of the commandment. The offering of the righteous enriches the altar, and its pleasing odor rises before the Most high. The sacrifice of the righteous is acceptable, and it will never be forgotten. Be generous when you worship the Lord, and do not stint the first fruits of your hands. With every gift show a cheerful face, and dedicate your tithe with gladness. Give to the Most High as he has given to you, and as generously as you can afford. For the Lord is the one who repays, and he will repay you sevenfold.” – Sirach 35:6-13
7. Learn about someone who is on the path to canonization but is not there yet (a Blessed or Venerable or Servant of God). Start asking for their intercession and see if you can help their cause! Learning about the lives of saints can strengthen our own faith and give us role models to look up to.
“We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that in this communion, the merciful love of God and his saints is always [attentive] to our prayers.” – Pope Paul VI
8. Participate in the life of your (again, registered-at) parish. Offer your talents to God through singing, reading, leading, or just helping out.
9. Adopt a priest or religious sister and pray and fast for them. Even people living the religious life need people to pray for them! The Handmaids of the Precious Blood specialize in helping people adopt priests for prayer.
10. Do something for the homeless. Pope Francis has continually encouraged us to encounter the poor – to know them and look them in the eye and love them. Try volunteering at a local shelter, or even just smiling at a homeless person on the street.
Click here to read his homily.
11. Visit someone you know is lonely. Step away from (un)social media and reach out to a friend you know is struggling.
“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” – Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
12. Find a bible study. Can’t find one? See number 13.
“Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ.” – St. Jerome
14. Go to confession. Has it been awhile? Resolve to make the sacrament a more regular habit this year. Once a month or even more frequently is recommended.
My daughter, just as you prepare in My presence, so also you make your confession before Me. The person of the priest is, for Me, only a screen. Never analyse what sort of a priest it is that I am making use of; open your soul in confession as you would to Me, and I will fill it with My light. (1725)
-St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul
15. Invite someone to Mass or confession. Evangelization is sometimes as simple as a personal invitation.
16. Try a new way of prayer. Stuck in a rut? Try a new devotion. Check out the Liturgy of the hours or intercessory prayer. God speaks in many different ways.
17. Visit a nursing home or a friend in the hospital. Corporeal work of mercy? Check.
18. Get a spiritual director. You don’t necessarily need to be discerning your vocation to seek spiritual counsel. Maybe you’re pondering a big move or your relationship with God isn’t where you’d like it to be. A priest (or religious sister or brother) can help. Just ask.
19. Go on a retreat. Take some time for just you and Jesus.
The important thing in the spiritual life is to take small, manageable steps toward God so as not to get discouraged. Pick one or two new things from the list and start incorporating them into your life.
Have some other suggestions for spiritual strength in the New Year? Let us know in the comments!