Friday, January 8, 2016

5 Spiritual New Year’s Resolutions

This post was originally published at Ignitum Today.

New Year’s resolutions usually seem to be focused on doing things to improve our physical health such as losing weight, eating healthier, or exercising more. While it is important to evaluate our physical health and work to make changes, we also shouldn’t forget about our spiritual health. If we put as much effort into improving our spiritual lives as we did in going to the gym or counting calories, our faith lives would be so much more fruitful! New Year’s is then also a great time to evaluate our spiritual health, and resolve to make changes to bring us closer to Christ in this coming year and beyond.

Here are five ideas for spiritual New Year’s resolutions you can make to help improve your faith life in this new year.

1. Find a Spiritual Director

Talking with a trusted and faith-filled confidante about your prayer is great for deepening your prayer life. You can make a resolution to meet with a spiritual director regularly, or just check in every once in awhile. While I prefer meeting with a priest (because he can also double as your confessor), you can also meet with a religious brother or sister, or even a layperson who has been trained in spiritual direction. If none of those options are available to you, even talking with a close friend who shares your faith can open up your prayer for you. It can be easy to get so bogged down in our own thoughts that we might miss something that God is very clearly saying to us. Spiritual direction can really help unpack all these thoughts to help lead us closer to God.

2. Add 5 more minutes of prayer to your day

If you want to become closer to another person, you spend more time with them. The same is true for God! If you want to build a deeper relationship with Him, talking to Him more will lead to that. A good place to start is to add just 5 more minutes of prayer to what you already do each day. Do you only pray for 5 minutes a day right now? Try to pray for 10 minutes. Do you do a holy hour every day? Try to do an hour and five minutes. This time adds up to an extra 35 minutes a week spent with God, and the benefits of adding this extra time far outweighs the time you give to Him.

3. Read a spiritual book

I love making reading resolutions at New Year’s, but I often forget to include a spiritual book on my list! There are so many options to choose from, including Scripture, writings by the saints, writings about the saints, and books on Catholic doctrine. Make a resolution to take the time and sit and read (and finish!) a spiritual book this year to help deepen your understanding of the faith.

4. Add one more spiritual activity to your monthly schedule

Life gets busy, and so it can be hard to make changes to your daily life. It can be easier though to add something new to your monthly schedule. This year, I’m making a resolution to go to daily Mass at least three times a month. I went to daily Mass every day when I was in graduate school, and so I know first-hand that words really cannot describe how much daily Mass and frequent reception of the Eucharist added to my faith life. Daily Mass may not be doable for you or in your town, so you can add another spiritual activity instead, such as spending a holy hour in Eucharistic Adoration, going to confession once a month, or even adding a volunteer service activity to your schedule to help celebrate the Year of Mercy.

5. Add a daily devotion

This one is especially good for people on the go, because you can read and reflect on your daily devotion on your commute or during your lunch break. I personally love reading the reflections in the Magnificat (although I need to get better about reading it every day), but there are a wealth of apps and e-mail devotions you can use too. There are 3-Minute Retreats from Loyola Press you can sign up for, you can have Blessed is She devotions waiting in your inbox each morning (specifically for women), or you can choose from a number of Catholic apps to use instead of playing on your phone at lunch (some great lists are here and here). It only takes a few minutes to read the daily readings and a short reflection, and it can make a huge difference to your day to just center yourself on God for a few extra minutes.

Did you make any spiritual New Year’s resolutions this year? Share your ideas in the comments!
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