Resolution: A healthier soul this year

With the beautiful feast of Christmas behind us, we now turn our attention to the New Year, which is quickly approaching. At the beginning of year, many often take the time to review our lives and make resolutions to become better persons, students, sons or daughters, siblings and friends.

I read that the practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back more than 3,000 years. This start to the New Year is a time when we feel we can put the mistakes of the past behind us and begin anew. If you review your Facebook newsfeed this week, you’ll likely find many posts listing common New Year’s resolutions such as: losing weight, eat better and healthier, spend time with family and loved ones, exercise more. It’s easy to make the resolutions. Keeping them is much more difficult.

So what should we do going forward into this New Year? How do we change ourselves to be better this coming year? 

As I thought about what I might resolve to do this year to benefit my physical and mental health, I was struck by the fact that I really never gave much thought to resolutions that might benefit my Spiritual health as well. I just didn’t have a plan. Here are some ideas that I was able to pull together. Hopefully they may help you make up some your own. 

Spend time with God each day — find time to spend in conversation with the Lord each day. Bring Him your gratitude and your concerns. Spend some time listening, too. Be more aware of His presence in your life each day.

Be there for others — Many of our brothers and sisters are so in need of our prayers and our presence. Try to spend some time with those who are lonely or in need. Reach out each day to that fellow student or neighbor who is different or marginalized. Continue to nurture friendships too. Our friends need our love, time and support. Give to the needy, if your circumstances permit. If you can’t give financially, give time.

Develop your faith life — attend Mass more often — or spend some time in reading Scripture, praying a decade of the Rosary, or other forms of prayer. Commit yourself to finding a prayer method that will “stretch your soul — give it a good workout” in 15 minutes a day. Learn more about your faith. Having a relationship with Jesus requires knowing more about Him. Spend some time reading about Him and our Catholic faith. Resolve to at least take some Spiritual baby steps this year.

Go to Confession more often — The beginning of the New Year gives us an opportunity to start anew each year. Confession permits us to do that each time we take advantage of the Sacrament. And while we’re reconciling with God, take time to reach out and forgive someone who may have hurt you. 

Be active and get involved — as Catholics we are called to active ministry. Spend some time volunteering at Church or nursing home or soup kitchen. Volunteer in your parish in one of the dozens of ministries that can surely use your talent. Start small. One thing at a time. You’ll make a big difference and you’ll feel great, too!

Reach out to the lost — we all know many Catholics who may have fallen away from the Church and from a relationship with Jesus for whatever reason. Reintroduce them to Him and to the Catholic faith. Invite them to attend Mass with you.

Encourage vocations — while I don’t believe that God would let His Church crumble due to a lack of priests, deacons and religious, we all need to do our part, too. One of my favorite sayings is, “Pray as though everything depends on God but act as though everything depends on you.” Pray for vocations but let’s get acting. Encourage those that are considering the priesthood, diaconate or religious life!

Take small steps — keep trying and don’t give up. Just remember, that if you keep God at the center of your New Year’s resolutions, you will have a much better chance of succeeding.

Wishing you and yours a most blessed and Happy New Year. 

Anchor columnist Frank Lucca is a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Fall River, a youth minister at St. Dominic’s Parish in Swansea, and a campus minister at UMass Dartmouth. He is married to his wife of 36 years, Kristine, and the father of two daughters and their husbands, and a 10-month-old grandson. Email him at DeaconFrankLucca@comcast.net.

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