Losing weight, eating healthier, exercising more regularly, getting more sleep, or quitting a bad habit probably top your New Year’s resolution list for 2020. Have you thought about making a spiritual resolution for 2020? It’s great to focus on physical health, but what about your spiritual health? What might a spiritual resolution look like? Allow me to share a few examples:
1. Begin your day with the Morning Offering
What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Hit the snooze button? Roll over? Complain that you need more sleep? St. Josemaría Escrivá wrote about the heroic minute, meaning that once the alarm rings, get up, and say a prayer. There is a traditional prayer you could learn called the Morning Offering. It’s a beautiful prayer which helps us give to God everything we will do during the day.
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.
2. Daily or weekly rosary
Many Catholics learned the rosary as a child. Some pray it every day. Others occasionally. And the rest, rarely. The rosary is a great way for us to reflect on the life of Jesus and Mary, and to pray with the scriptures. Not only that, at Fatima, Mary asked us to pray the rosary daily for peace in the world. Maybe 2019 is the year to take the rosary more seriously. If you are a new to the rosary, begin with a decade each day, and move your way up. Pray it once a week. Or strive to pray it daily. Give the rosary a chance.
3. Meatless Fridays
Canon law 1250 says: “The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.” We typically think meatless Fridays pertains only to Lent, but it is encouraged year-round. Some conferences of Catholic bishops have re-instituted the practice for every Friday. Consider being a bit more conscious about your Friday meals, and perhaps plan to abstain from meat.
4. Weekly Stations
Not able to abstain from meat on Fridays? Canon law also suggests some other suitable form of penance in place of abstinence. For me, if I don’t do meatless Fridays, I choose to pray the Stations of the Cross as my “suitable form of penance.” It allows me to recall Christ’s passion and death, and most importantly the reason why we abstain from meat on Fridays. The Stations aren’t just meant for Lent, you can pray them anytime of the year.
5. Pray through a devotional book
There are many devotional books, filled with meditations that will help us deepen our relationship with God. There are two I’ll be tackling in the early days of 2019: Called: Becoming an Everyday Disciple in a Post-Christian World ― A Five-Week Guide by Kevin Cotter (Ave Maria Press, 2018) and 52 Weeks with Saint Faustina: A Year of Grace and Mercy by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle (Marian Press, 2019). If you are looking for a Marian meditation book, I recommend my 31 daily devotional, A Heart Like Mary’s: 31 Daily Meditations to Help You Live and Love as She Does (Ave Maria Press, 2017).
6. Read a spiritual book
There are many books written by Catholic authors available for you to deepen your knowledge of Jesus, Mary, the Church, the saints, and other topics relevant to Christian living. Check out the catalogues for the prominent Catholic publishers such as Twenty-Third Publications, Ave Maria Press, Our Sunday Visitor, Sophia Institute Press, Tan Books, and Ignatius Press. Decide to read one book this year that will benefit your spiritual life. For me, I’ve decided to read books about saintly priests, so that I can be inspired by their example to strive for holiness as I serve God and his people as a priest.
7. Read or pray with the Bible
There are different apps and books that could help you read the entire Bible during 2019. Or maybe choose to read a certain section of the Bible and expand your selection once you completed your goal. Read the Gospels, or the letters of St. Paul, or the prophetic writings. Come to a greater knowledge of the word of God. And while you are at it, you can pray with the Bible, through a process called lectio divina, in which one reads a passage and spends a few moments meditating on a word or phrase, or engaging one’s imagination with the Scripture passage. Through this prayer, God speaks in a deeper way to our souls about the Scripture contemplated.
8. Go on a pilgrimage
We are all on a pilgrimage in this life as we journey toward the kingdom of heaven. For Christians throughout time, one of the most coveted places to go on a pilgrimage was to the Holy Land. But there has always been a custom to make pilgrimages to shrines of the Blessed Mother (such as Marian apparition sites, or shrines erected out of the people’s devotion), or the saints. There are many shrines in the United States, and even more in other countries throughout the world! If you are able, decide to go and pray at a shrine, either locally or internationally. In early January, I will visit the National Shrine Our Lady of Prompt Succor in New Orleans and in October, I’ll lead a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Consider joining me!
9. Choose a saintly intercessor
Catholic author Jen Fulwiler has a saint generator to help you to choose a patron saint for the new year. It’s a custom that even St. Faustina did. Choose a saint, whose intercession you wish to implore throughout the year. Maybe even read a book about them. If you need help choosing one, let the saint generator help you: SaintsNameGenerator.com.
End you day with an Examen
We often do an examination of conscience before we celebrate the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. But what if every day you did an Examen? It’s not just identifying our faults, but also calling to mind how God was with you throughout the day, where you received his grace, and how you could respond to grace better tomorrow. Just as we begin our day offering it to God, it’s just as good to end our day asking, “How did I live for God today?”
I’ve provided 10 simple spiritual resolutions. I don’t expect you to do all 10, nor would I recommend taking on all 10 on Jan. 1. Instead, choose one. Do it well. And decide what your next step is. It’s possible you might end up doing all 10, but that will occur throughout the year of grace which 2019 can be, when we take the spiritual life seriously.