As we start the new year, many of us find it in our hearts as the calendar changes to want to become saints, or at least more saintly. Do you draw up New Year's resolutions? Have numbered lists of what you hope to accomplish under the heading we often see in magazines, "New Year New You"? Going to lose weight, shed some holiday pounds? Be nicer to your in-laws? Your coworkers? Exercise more?
All these are noble goals, and I don't mean to make fun of them, by any means! Only to the degree to which these resolutions can become like an ice cube on a hot stove!
Here's a way to turn your good intentions into actual improvements. Ask God to help you with your prayer life and some good spiritual reading! Let Him enrich your life and increase the chances that 2018 will be a better year for you, no matter what 2017 has been like!
Now's a good time to get a jump on Lent, which starts early this year on February 14th. Make up a list, similar to the one suggested below, or perhaps a table or chart that you can make up in Microsoft Word or another such word processing program. Here's an example:
WEEK OF: 1/1 1/8 1/15
PRAYERS 15 min. 20 min. 25 min.
ROSARY 2 rosaries 3 rosaries 4 rosaries
READING 30 min. 35 min. 40 min.
Here's another good idea for all Catholics: add more Mass attendance to your schedule, and make it a point to go to Confession at least once a month. The Sacraments of the Eucharist (in Mass) and Penance (Confession) provide essential spiritual nourishment and can bring you closer to our Lord! Make it a point not to be just a "C&E" (Christmas and Easter) Catholic!
Note that these times listed above are just suggestions. You can add or subtract time from your goals, although if you can challenge yourself, even just a little that will bring better results (much as with exercise)!
Use your own instincts guided by the Holy Spirit as to what will work best for you. For prayers, for example, you could use one of the many prayers from our site, other good websites, or any one of many good prayer books sold on Amazon or in our web store.
There are a couple of good links at the bottom of this page that have extensive lists of some excellent reading material as well.
Or perhaps some short prayers during the day such as ones suggested here to ask God to help you cope, or for guidance with particularly challenging situations! A morning offering and an evening prayer are great ways to start and finish the day.
You might want to get in the habit of praying the Rosary if you're not doing so already. This is a very powerful prayer, one highly favored by numerous saints as well as our Blessed Mother at Fatima. If you're not sure what to reflect on when praying it, try our scriptural rosary page to give you food for thought.
If you find you can't pray all five decades of the Rosary for each day's mysteries all at once, try praying a decade at a time during the day meditating on a particular mystery.
We have some suggestions below for spiritual reading as well. These include various Classics of our faith written by and about various saints, and our page of links from Catholic Answers, a great source for learning more about Catholicism.
Don’t feel intimidated by these various links and suggestions! Take them for what they are: suggestions. I’ve found it best in giving myself various assignments to "underpromise" so I can then hopefully "overdeliver". I found those terms in an old EBay guide to good customer service.
(Too many people do the opposite, "overpromising" and "underdelivering" on something, such as those hawking TV gadgets that never work, or shady used car salesmen or other such sleazy businessmen.)
This should not be an excuse for laziness in pursuing your spiritual goals, but, quite the opposite, to encourage you to go further in your journey with our Lord and our Lady.
For example, promise them, say, 1 hour of prayer time and reading per week, for example, keeping in mind what you think you can do, realistically speaking, in keeping with your daily responsibilities. Then give them 1 hour and a half! Promise our Blessed Mother 3 Rosaries per week. Then give her four!
Also whenever possible. promise them some acts of charity or self-denial such as fasting perhaps one day a week, and then try for two. Whatever you think might be best, but do this all out of love for God. Keep in mind, in accordance with the Little Way of St. Therese, that even the smallest tasks when done out of love for our Redeemer can become mighty deeds indeed!
I hope these links listed below can be of some help. On behalf of Our Catholic Prayers I'd like to wish all of our readers a Blessed and Happy New Year!