New Year’s Resolutions in a life of faith

January 9, 2018

With the coming of the new year, we are a people quick to make resolutions to better ourselves. The process of goal setting is a reality in our lives, especially within the realms of work and physical health. For college students, the process of setting achieving goals is common in academic and extra-curricular endeavors.

As with all of these areas of life, cultivating a life of faith is also something that takes work and active engagement. As we begin the new year, I invite my students to reflect upon their relationship with God and set goals articulating how they will pursue holiness, and I invite you to join us in this practice.

Here are some ideas to consider:

1. Cultivate a regular habit of prayer. Is there a particular form of prayer that has deepened your relationship with God in the past? Consider setting a goal to pray that way for a certain number of minutes and times per week. If your prayer life has been a bit stagnant, perhaps it is time to learn a new form of prayer. Some of my favorites include Lectio Divina, a form of meditation upon the words of Scripture, the Ignatian Examen, a process of reflecting upon the ways in which God was present throughout the encounters, moments and details of the day, and Liturgy of the Hours, a long-standing prayer within the Church that involves the reading and recitation of Psalms.

2. Pick up a good book for spiritual reading. In addition to lifting one’s heart and mind to God, spiritual reading can awaken, inspire and challenge a person to pursue holiness in all aspects of life — especially those ones that we have a difficult time surrendering to God. Ask your pastor or a minister for spiritual reading recommendations, as they will likely have several to share! Some of my favorites include: “Life of the Beloved” by Henri Nouwen, “Wisdom Distilled from the Daily” by Joan Chittister, “The Strangest Way” by Robert Barron and “Tattoos on the Heart” by Gregory Boyle.

3. Choose a particular virtue or fruit of the spirit to grow in. What are those patterns of sin that you are prone to? Choose the virtue that will help you grow in holiness in that particular area of life. For example, if you struggle with anger, cultivate kindness or gentleness. If you tend to doubt or despair, pursue hope. Good places to begin are Scripture passages on the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit (Isa 11:1-2, Gal 5:22-23) and the Catechism on virtue (nos. 1803-1832). Brainstorm ways that you can intentionally grow that particular virtue, such as memorizing Scripture passages, posting note cards with meaningful quotes around your home and choosing spiritual reading on it.

We have just celebrated the seasons of Advent and Christmas in which we have reflected upon the reality of the Incarnation: God becoming human in the person of Jesus and that same God taking up residence in our own hearts and lives. This new year, let us also be open to hearing how the Lord is inviting us into deeper relationship with Him and let us respond in joy. 

Nicole Driscoll, MDiv., is the campus minister at the University of St. Thomas - Houston.