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Soulful Beginnings: 10 Often Overlooked Catholic Spiritual Resolutions

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Around this time of year, we begin to be bombarded by commercials for weight loss programs, and it’s for good reason. As the new year approaches, we start thinking about what we might need to change or improve, and after a couple of months of parties and family gatherings soaked in gravy, these commercials do strike a nerve. So, I’m quite sure they recoup their ad dollars in sales.

The top ten most common resolutions are so familiar (how many of these have you made before?): exercise more, lose weight, get organized, learn a new skill, live life to the fullest, save money or spend less, quit smoking, spend more time with family/friends, travel more, or read more.

All these are worthy goals! But it’s been proven that these types of resolutions don’t stick. One stat I have seen said that less than 10% of people who make resolutions actually keep them. In fact, the same research shows that 43% quit by the end of January, and 23% don’t make it past the first week.

So it just begs the question: Is it even worth making resolutions? I propose we think about this a little differently. Every one of the top ten resolutions is something that could have a lasting impact if it were possible to keep them. But what if we made a resolution with eternal impact? Might that be an incentive to keep it?

Studies have shown that if you commit to doing something for two weeks, it becomes a habit. I can attest to that. When I was a new Catholic, I loved a lot of our traditions and devotions, but I didn’t “love” the Rosary. I needed to add something in for Lent one year, so I decided to pray the Rosary daily, “just for Lent,” I thought. It was honestly a struggle at first because I had to keep notes on what mysteries to pray on what days of the week (stop laughing, cradle Catholics!). But sure enough, after two weeks of consistently praying–with some difficulty–it became a habit. Now, I can’t imagine a day without it. And I see the fruits of this devotion in my life. 

Parishes can offer long lists of ideas for Catholic spiritual resolutions, but to help your parishioners, offer this piece of advice: just pick one or two! Catholics should consider their lifestyle, their daily commitments, and their strengths. Then, advise them to pray about it. Trying to take on too many of these spiritual practices could lead to burnout or cause them to give up too soon. The payoff for any of these is a closer relationship with God. That’s the goal, the eternal goal!

1) Daily Prayer Routine

Encourage a commitment to a consistent daily prayer routine. Pick a time of day that works, choose a prayer or devotion, and stick with it. This could include morning and evening prayers, the Rosary, or the Divine Mercy Chaplet. If they can’t fit in the entire Rosary, they could try just praying a decade a day. Small moves can have huge results.

2) Daily Mass Attendance

Parishes offer daily Mass, but does your parish encourage Catholics to attend outside of Sunday? Suggest to parishioners that it is valuable to even add in one more Mass a week or a month–they’ll see the graces flow from it!

3) Scripture Reading

Regular reading of Scripture outside of Mass is a good thing for our faith life. There are many plans available online to read the Bible in a year, but if that still seems daunting, suggest a Psalm or part of a Psalm a day, the daily Mass readings, or even just a verse or two from one of the Gospels. 

4) Adoration and Eucharistic Devotion

Spending time in Eucharistic Adoration has big, grace-filled benefits. Make a weekly or monthly commitment to spend quiet time in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. With the focus on renewing our Eucharistic faith, it’s a great time to speak about it in groups or from the pulpit. Encourage families to come together, even for 15-30 minutes–it changes lives.

5) Sacrament of Reconciliation

Encourage a renewed commitment to attend Confession regularly, perhaps on a monthly basis. See the blog post entitled Confession Comeback for more strategies for parishes to reignite Catholic interest in the sacrament.

6) Spiritual Reading

Choose a Catholic spiritual book or books and recommend them to parishioners to read over the course of the year. This could be a work by a saint, a classic spiritual text, or a book by a contemporary Catholic author. (This idea is for individual study, but you could also start a book study group: New Year’s Resolution Catholic Book Study!)

7) Acts of Charity

Offer ways for parishioners to incorporate acts of charity into their lives. This could be through volunteer opportunities at your parish or diocese shelter, soup kitchen, or food pantry. Or connect parishioners with those who need help with grocery shopping, home repairs, or even just someone to read to them. 

8) Fast and Abstinence

Many Catholics only think about fasting and abstinence in Lent. But these are holy practices that yield big spiritual fruit when they are done intentionally at any time. Pope Francis often calls the faithful to fast and pray for certain causes. Invite parishioners to think of small but significant things they could give up (on occasion) to turn their minds toward the sacrifice Christ made for us and to grow in virtue. 

9) Family Prayer Time

Encourage families to establish a regular family prayer time. This could include praying together before meals, reading Scripture as a family, or having dedicated time for family prayer. Again, as with many of these resolution ideas, encourage families to start small. Just saying Grace before meals is a great start if the family doesn’t regularly pray together. They can grow from there! A decade of the Rosary before bedtime, an Our Father for a special family intention, or a Hail Mary for a friend in need–these can be spontaneous ways the family can begin to pray together.

10) Stewardship and Generosity

The new year is a great time for Catholics to evaluate their financial stewardship and consider increasing their generosity through giving or supporting charitable organizations. This goes beyond the “spend less, save more” secular resolution. Instead, this is an integral part of forming disciples in the parish. If this is an option a Catholic in your parish is interested in pursuing to strengthen their faith, make it easy for them to see and evaluate what their current giving level is and make adjustments to reflect where God is leading them.

The key is to help Catholics choose spiritual resolutions that are meaningful and that will help them grow spiritually. It’s always a good reminder that we each approach these resolutions with a spirit of openness and humility, allowing God to work in our lives.

What spiritual resolutions are you making as parish staff? Let us know in the comments below!

About Polly King

Polly King has over 30 years in the marketing and communications field, the last 12 in Catholic publishing. As a convert to the Catholic faith, she has a deep passion for helping parishes engage and evangelize their communities. This led her to join ACS Technologies as part of their mission to serve the Church with technology and solutions that support their ministries. Polly currently resides in Indiana with her husband Bob and their 14-year-old Australian Shepherd, Riley. Her commitment to her faith and dedication to her profession make her an inspiring figure for those looking to make a positive impact in their communities.

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