Resolve to Grow Spiritually in the New Year

Happy New Year, everyone! The turning over of a new year is a time when many people feel inspired to make resolutions toward personal improvement. We resolve to set aside bad habits or adopt good ones. We might resolve to lose weight or to exercise more. Students may resolve to be more attentive to their studies in the coming semester. Why not make a resolution that will help you to grow spiritually in the New Year?

Of course, the problem with New Year’s resolutions is that people tend not to keep them past January. Sometimes this is because our resolutions are too vague. It’s meaningless to say “I want to exercise more” without a specific plan; for example, do 25 push ups every morning before your shower. Other times we may give up on our resolution because we’ve set unrealistic goals for ourselves. Spending an hour in the gym every day sounds nice, but can you really follow through with it? If you can’t, you might just feel like you are failing and be tempted to give up altogether.

Growth in the spiritual life is important, and something each of us should take seriously. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. If you are considering making a spiritual New Year’s resolution, set yourself up for success by keeping it simple and specific.

Where do you need to grow?

Before making a resolution, it’s important to ask, where do I need the most growth? This means you should think about the different aspects of Christian discipleship to see if there are any areas in which you might be lacking. The particular ways that people live out their faith will look different depending upon your state in life, but there are a few common elements that should be part of the life of any disciple.

  1. Study. (The word disciple means “student,” after all). It is important to know the faith so that you can put it into practice.
  2. Personal Prayer. Christian discipleship is about fostering a relationship with God. This means inviting God into your day-to-day life.
  3. Participation in the Sacraments. The sacraments are given to us by Christ for the purpose of sharing in God’s grace. Take advantage of them!
  4. Works of Charity. We are commanded to love one another, especially our neighbors, and especially our neighbors in need.

If you are like most people, you could stand to grow in all four of these areas. But to make progress, just pick one aspect either that you know you are weak in or that you feel inspired to focus on at this time. Then make a specific and achievable resolution to incorporate that aspect of discipleship into your life more in the coming year.

Here are some ideas to help you out. (A lot of the links below are to external websites and are for reference only.)


Could you stand to grow in knowledge of your faith? There are a ton of amazing resources to help you learn the Catholic faith better. It can be as simple as getting a copy of the Catechism (you can easily order it online — we even have several free copies available at CCM) and reading a few paragraphs each day. Reading not your thing? Join one of our weekly student Bible study small groups to explore the faith with your fellow students. Stay after Sunday Mass on campus to participate in our Credo discussions. Or find a good Catholic podcast to listen to. There are a ton out there — but be discerning. Steer clear of any that seem too divisive or that focus only on the negative. Search for information from reputable groups such as FOCUS (the Fellowship of Catholic University Students), or Catholic Answers (an apologetics and evangelization apostolate), or SQPN (the StarQuest Production Network) which explores the intersection of the Catholic faith and pop culture. There is a podcast called “Catechism Class” that takes you through a short section of the Catechism in each episode.


Could your prayer life use some work? Whatever your prayer routine is currently (even if it’s nonexistent) you can benefit from adding just a little to it each day. Here are some suggestions:

  • Pray a daily rosary
  • Read the daily gospel reading (you can find it here) and spend 15 minutes reflecting on it.
  • Download a Liturgy of the Hours app (like iBreviary) and pick one of the offices to pray each day, like Morning Prayer or Night Prayer.
  • Do something different every nine days by praying more novenas — you can find a huge list of them here.
  • Find time to spend in Eucharistic Adoration every week.
  • Start each day with ten minutes of silence to thank God for his blessings.
  • End each day by praying the Daily Examen.
  • Follow a Bible reading plan or listen to the Bible in a Year podcast by Fr. Mike Schmitz (this could also go under study; prayer and study go hand in hand when it comes to God).

Participate in the Sacraments

When we say “participate in the sacramental life” what we mean is that you have been baptized and confirmed and are regularly receiving the Eucharist and going to Confession.

If you have not yet been baptized or confirmed, we can help you with that! The process of receiving the sacraments of initiation is called RCIA (the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) and we accept students into the RCIA process at any time during the year. Just email us about it.

Catholics are normally obliged to worship in the Eucharistic liturgy (what we call the Mass) every Sunday, whether you receive the Eucharist or not. Participating in the Eucharist begins with being prayerfully attentive at the Mass each Sunday. To receive the Eucharist, one must be in communion with the Catholic Church, not conscious of grave sin, and have fasted from food or drink (except water or medicine) for an hour before Communion. Catholics are encouraged to receive Holy Communion frequently.

Confession is necessary to absolved of grave sin, but it is also a beautiful opportunity to receive God’s mercy even for smaller, venial sins. It is difficult to make any real progress in the spiritual life without establishing a regular schedule for Confession. Once a month is a good place to start, though some will find it beneficial to go more or less frequently.

If you’ve been away from the sacraments for a while, the New Year is a great time to return!

Works of Charity

This is where the rubber hits the road and we take everything we’ve learned about the faith and all the graces we receive in the sacraments and put them into practice. The whole moral life of the Church can be summed up in one statement: love one another (cf. Jn 15:12).

There are an infinite number of ways to do this, so this list is just to give you some ideas.

  • Forgive someone you’ve struggled to forgive in the past
  • Reconnect with a friend or relative you haven’t spoken to in a while
  • Set aside time each day for your friend, roommate, or significant other for conversation or a shared activity (no cell phones!)
  • Volunteer in the community — there are some great opportunities listed through the Service Learning Center. Maybe pick one per month.
  • That thing your roommate is always complaining about? Stop doing it.
  • That thing your roommate always does that you complain about? Stop complaining.

None of the above is too complicated, and you certainly don’t need to do everything on the list. These are just ideas to help inspire you. Pick one (maybe two) that you feel are doable, make a specific plan about how you will put it into action, and then put it into practice in 2022.

May your New Year be filled with blessings from God!