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Spiritual Resolutions for the New Year?

Well, its that time of year again. New Year's resolutions abound.

Looking back on this past year, did you grow in your faith and in holiness? If someone close to you were asked this question about you, would their answer be a resolute “yes!”?

If not, do you have a purposeful plan to grow closer to Christ this coming year? Are you fully prepared to meet God face to face?

It was years ago but it seems like just yesterday that I attended my brother Shannon's funeral – he was 35 years old when he died. Before that, I attended my sister Linda's funeral – she was 32. In between these, my niece Callie was 2 years old when she was ripped from this world.

Christ Clock Picardie_Beauvais4_tango7174 WikimediaNo one saw any of these devastating and sudden losses coming. Two of the three were healthy only hours before they died. Each of their bodies failed, almost instantly, in different and unexpected ways. Each of them lived as if they had long lives ahead of them. Each of them was wrong. One moment they were healthy, spending time with family, playing, eating, sleeping… and then they were suddenly standing before God.

What did they see as they stood waiting to hear God's determination regarding their eternal destiny? What will you see and hear? When will you find yourself standing before God? In the next ten minutes? The next hour? Tomorrow? Next week? Are you ready?

If not, what will it take for you to get ready? Is there really anything more important than being ready? Is there really anything more important than where you will spend eternity once this very brief life has passed?

Each minute you choose the trajectory of your soul. Each minute you decide what God will ratify at your last breath. What is your chosen trajectory? What if you think it is heaven when it really is not?

If you are committed to your Catholic faith, can you clearly articulate the criteria upon which you will be judged when you meet God face to face? Could you show someone where your views are justified in the Catechism or scripture?

Are you really as ready as you can be, or do you just hope that you are?

My hope and prayer in the coming new year, you are or will become as ready as you can be. If you are not, my prayer is that you will move spiritual growth to the top of your New Year's resolution list, get a clear plan in place, and quickly begin to pursue your relationship with Christ and his Church.

I wrote Navigating the Interior Life for this purpose – to provide a kind of map to knowing God in this life and the next. If you SDGuideCoverTradeSzdon't have a plan, Navigating provides a clear roadmap to heaven and ways that you can specifically discover the path that God has mapped out for you.

That said, I wish you a very happy New Year! If your last moment comes this year – my prayer is that you will find yourself embraced by Christ and hearing the words, “well done – enter into the joy of your master…”

Seek Him – Find Him – Follow Him

Dan

PS: If you do have spiritual resolutions, share them with the rest of us! I have no doubt that we will benefit from your insights.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • dennisdonnelly

    It is so amazing how fragile life is. A six foot six, three hundred pound left tackle or a less than a pound preborn child, each life can be extinguished in the blink of an eye, each to stand before his/her maker. Which is more pure? Which is more worthy? Which can face his/her God with the expectation of joining Him in heaven?

    There is no law, that is a law, without a punishment for breaking that law. If a law has no punishment, then it is nothing more than a slogan. But in the case of God’s law, He states that anyone who breaks it will die (“Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die. (Ezekiel 18:4)).

    Therefore, the righteous judgment of God upon anyone who would break the law is that he should be damned. BUT God in His great mercy has provided a way out of this damnation. The provision is found only in God the Son, Jesus (In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:14 (NASB)) — (And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 3:16 (NASB)) — (For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)) — (“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) (NASB)) — (“And He Himself bore our sins in His Body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by his wounds we were healed(1 Pet. 2:24 (NASB)).

    Therefore, we can see that salvation is deliverance of the sinner from the righteous judgment of God. Salvation means that we are “saved” from that judgment through the death and reasurection of Jesus, our Lord. (“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; (1PET 3-8))

    Know that, whether six foot six, 300 pounds —or- less than a pound, it is only by the grace of God that we will enter the kingdom of God (“But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus…(Acts 15:11)

    After reading this you by now have assumed that I am not of the Catholic
    persuasion. And rightly so. I am however of the catholic persuasion. It is my belief that God created man and, like minded, men created organized religion in an attempt to guide themselves as they saw fit to God. Who, of course, already knew where they were.

    If I have offended anyone, please accept my most sincere apologies for having intruded. May God Bless you and keep you

    • Heidi Cole

      I am blessed, so blessed today, that God opened the door and invited me in. I was blessed AM blessed with the moment during Lent when our Father called me to action. To repair the relationships in my family, to do the hard thing, to make the difficult decisions to make the impossible phone call. He made it ALL possible. He has led me to the trough at which I feed abundantly. I pray that these blessings continue for me, my family and for all who seek God. And for those who don’t know where to find him. The door WILL open. I pray I can become a better person, with love, patience, kindess and generosity. To know that everything I give others will come back to me tenfold. To now spend time in worry, but to spend time in prayer and in action. To continue my studies and dedication to the Church, it’s doctrine, its history and promise of salvation.
      Doing God’s work. Behaving as the Lord and His Son desire. I can only hope and pray that God knows my heart and that he inspired me to become a better and better Catholic and a better lamb of God. Happy New Year to you all!

  • Teresa Cara

    Dan, thank you for this GREAT article!!! Your sentiments echo our Priest’s homily today! He said that many of us are infants when it comes to our faith. It’s time we take back the ground the enemy has stolen in our lives and roll up our sleeves. Do we have a plan to grow closer to Christ? His arms are always open. Our days are truly numbered.

  • Karen Kamphaus

    This year shall be heaven if we look to Jesus, loving Him completely. How many of us have been in love? The feelings of excitement, and joy at seeing our beloved. We get warm fuzzies! The anticipation of seeing the one that we are in love with. Let us all look to our Lord this way, asking him for this grace. He wants nothing from us,but to make us happy in this life, and most especially in the next.
    Why should any of us want anything less than Heaven? Purgatory is painful. I have heard that the worst pain on earth cannot compare to the least pain in purgatory!
    If you only knew how short this time is on this earth you would not waste a second. Look at this earth as a clock. In heaven there is no time.
    This year we must pray for our priests, and the conversion of sinners! Years ago during lent I said a rosary every day for the conversion of sinners. Little did I know that I was praying for myself! Just as Mary brought Jesus to us. She lead me directly to her Son Jesus. In fact it was a protestant who came to me in the lunchroom at High school asking me if I was saved? I said “no I’m Catholic”! He asked me if I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart? I said yes. Little did I know at the time that I was already saved. As a Catholic Christian. The protestants don’t know that as Catholics we are saved at Baptism, and that our salvation is on going. I have my Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, Body Blood, Soul and Divinity! Each time that We receive Jesus in Communion, we are asking Him into our hearts, becoming united with Him in a special intimate way! What more can we want? Jesus in the Eucharist “is a little bit of heaven on earth”!

  • Guest

    Thank you Dan. This article is marvelous. I particularly love the “Hellish Back=up Plan”. It is a fitting wake-up call to shake us out of our comfort zones and get working on your Eternal Goal. It has shown me I need to work harder if I hope to move from the crawling toddler stage to standing up before I can take the first steps. What can I share with you, God’s people on this Website?

    For some reason ( I always find the excuse that as a71-year old widow and living alone I find it hard to fit into the Residential area Prayer Group) I have been unable to join the Small Christian Communitiy which brings Parishioners in this Estate who pray together, read the Scriptures, pray and discuss their Faith and the problems they are facing in their families and lives.

    Now I was stuck on what to do because Faith must be shared outside the Sunday Mass attendance. Then I just prayed. “Jesus you know me better than I know myself. It is desirable that I join some group with whom I can grow together in our Faith. So, can You please sort out this small problem for me? I am sure You can and You will”. You know what Dan? A friend of mine led me to the Divine Mercy Apostolate Centre. Now I am a very happy member of the Cenacle which meets every Tuesday. We also have a whole day of Workshop, Prayer and Spiritual Guidance every 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month. We study Saint Faustina’s life and the Diary. We invited different speakers for each day which concludes with the Eucharistic Sacrifice. You see, Jesus did exactly what I was sure He would do!!! And, you know what? The lady who introduced me to this Group is, in fact, not a very active Member and rarely atends the weekly Cenacle or the twice-weekly Workshops.

    I just said, Thank You Jesus for guiding me, yet again, and led me to where You wanted me to be.

    I ssincerely recommend this Devotion to my God’s people on this Website. It is really a wonderful Faith-building and Christ’s Love-filled Devotion.

    I wish all of you a blessed New Year

  • RobinJeanne

    I don’t know how to turn my hearts desire into a “plan”. I have never made a 5
    year, 10 year plan for my life like people are always talking about. I’ve had
    wishes and dreams but no real plan to how to achieve them. I have lived one day at time because I don’t know how to plan for the future. Decades ago someone saw I had sewing talent and asked if I’d be interested in learning upholstery.. sure why not… after 6 months of learning and seeing how much money they were making and how very little I was… that lead to the thought, I could do this on my own and so my small business was born. So I’ve gone from auto interiors to furniture and now I’m doing clergy garbs and church banner… I love it!!! I know it’s all part of Gods plan, putting the right people in my life. He took little seed thoughts I had, some I forgot about, and made them happen.

    As I look back my whole life, it is like a surprise, one after another many good, but some very bad. I’m about to be 55 soon and just recently found the Lord. I’m not getting any younger and if it took 40 years to desire a relationship with the Lord… well I may not have that much time to “Be” who He made me to be. I want to be a saint. Not so people can say “see how holy she is” but so I no longer wound others by my sins.That I love all who God chooses to cross my path, to bring hope and joy to strangers.

    Is there actually a book that guides one to “How to make a plan” to grow in
    holiness? Step by step and how to actually execute it?

    Thanks Dan for the great article… this could be the start of an awesome year, though I have no particular plans in mind… only God knows.

    • RobinJeanne

      It’s like I have a puzzle peice of life missing. I just read, Ralph Marins article ” Called to Holiness (Part II of II) ” and I was reminder that I do have his book The Fulfillment of All Desire: A Guidebook for the Journey to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints (2006). with the work book but have not read it (I’ve only had it for 3 years… it’s soooo big :/ ) Maybe it will show me a plan???

      • Robert Archambault

        I have found an additional great book called “introduction to devout life” by St Francis DeSales, a 16th century writer who is now a saint. His works have stood the test of time. This book is my “handbook” for spiritual growth.

        • Powerful book – it will change your life.

        • RobinJeanne

          I’ve actualy read it twice and plus once in my book study group. I love the book. Each time it’s like reading it the first time.. I may be a slow learner. :/

    • Funny RobinJeanne – maybe I didn’t make it obvious enough. About 2/3 of the content of my book Navigating the Interior Life is designed to help you produce a simple plan for spiritual growth.

      • RobinJeanne

        LOL, that is funny…I’m probably just that clueless or have tunnel vision. I struggle and struggle and then one day”Bamm” all is clear and I see how it was there all the time. When that happens, it is a joyeous occasion maybe I need to buy you book then….I did buy one for the priest, nun compain you had going. Does your book kind of give step by step, some kind of order to follow. I think to start I need a “ABC-123” then from there and more personal aproch will grow from it. (feeling embarrassed right now)

        • Absolutely

          • RobinJeanne

            Well then Merry Christmas to me… I’m ordering a copy now…. 😀

  • Thank you for this reminder of the brevity of our earthly lives. My resolution is to pray the Liturgy of the Hours (aka Divine Office) every day.
    For those with a similar interest, there are a couple of faithful on-line resources I have found: http://universalis.com/ and http://divineoffice.org/

    • Great resolution! I would recommend iBreviary – it is free!

  • DianeVa

    To live in the pure JOY of being in a relationship with Jesus and his Church and to allow that Joy and peace to be seen on my face and through my actions. This is my resolution!

  • Karee Santos

    Last year, I resolved to pray more, which was way too vague! This year I’m resolving to pray for 10 minutes per day, do 10 minutes of spiritual reading, and say at least one decade of the rosary with my hubby. Specifics help!

    • Concrete and specific is the secret

    • Bonita Lay

      That’s correct Karee…even in our spiritual life, our goals are to be SMARTY.. Specific, Measurable, Achieveable, Realistic Time dated and YOURS

      • Karee Santos

        Great acronym!

        • Bonita Lay

          Often enough, we hear..”this is WHAT we need to do”…but the HOW to of getting results is the challenge. In leadership development…even in spiritual matters, this works! When 90% of my adult class went to reconciliation, Father happy…I’m happy.

  • Ijaybabe

    I am at crossroads in my life too. Besides, having an interior relationship with God, I do not know what to with my life. I am a stay at home mom, love it, love, love it. At the same time, I know that God has cut me out for more work to do besides staying home and taking care of my family. I have a desire to help the poor, feed the hungry, tend to the sick, build shelters for the homeless but I have no clue on how to achieve that. I went to an interdenominational prayer convention and the prophet called me out and told me that I was too cold for God. He told me that I am a leader but not using the gift God has given me. (He got me on that one. I run away from anything leadership). I was asked to fast and discover who I am meant to be. So, starting 2014, I intend to listen more to the voice of God and stop letting the spirit of fear and timidity hold me back. Happy New Yr, all and may God be with all of us as we cross over into 2014.

  • Bonita Lay

    I think I took a different approach towards your request for spiritual resolutions… This was my spiritual resolution for 2013…A family generational issue for us is the sin of anger. ..just a family trait passed. I kept on saying to myself.. “Don’t be angry…don’t get angry” and scurry into the confessional “Sin #43..lack of charity Father”… UNTIL I thought, there’s has to be a better way. Our minds will respond better to the positive than the negative. I can be kind to people… and I set it as a goal. I can be kind to 3 people in three days. My spiritual reward…I become more Christlike…the consequence of not being kind…well back to the “fire escape” and “Father sin #43”. I then reflected on what are the obstacles to being kind…. well, my boss is nasty…and figuring out a possible solution? Pray for him (her) and my action step? Go to Adoration..it is mine to do and I am going to do it every Wednesday. I also needed affirmations “I am a kind person” and I say this every day three times a day. .and act as if. Then, I raise the bar…be kind to 4 people in three days. and 5 people in 3 days. Guess what happens in a month’s time?? I become a kind person. The Augustinians say at the fracture rite…”Become what you eat, receive what you are”.. My spiritual resolution for 2014…Be charitable. Happy New Year everybody!

  • Sandra Traw

    When I read this I can hardly “catch my breath”! Do others live in great fear? Fear of loss of Heaven ? I live in a very dark place. I purchase books. Apps for Rosary/Divine Office, Daily Mass Readings etc. I go to Mass and Reconciliation..for I know I do not Love God nor my neighbor. .I have this deep longing and desire but even that is selfish because I desire peace and joy for myself not love for God! I am drawn to this site but I always feel more fear and pain when I come here. Setting Spiritual Goals is very frightening for me. Reading your book and realizing that failure in this area is a huge probability for me and not knowing how to handle that is even more frightening.

    • Sandra – Have you considered finding a spiritual director in your area?

      • Sandra Traw

        I live in VERY rural area. My husband drives me in to mass in small community near where we live. My priest is supportive but not particularly helpful as far as direction. I have e-mailed some retreat houses which offer spiritual direction at retreats…to see if they offer outside of retreat settings. Not sure about trusting Internet sites. So the answer is Yes…I am trying to find help…and No, so far have not been successful in my search.

      • Sandra Traw

        I thought I answered…but my answer did not show. I live in extremely rural area. Drive little. Have contacted some retreat houses that offer spiritual direction with retreats to see if possibility to get a director through them. Not sure about trust of Internet to find a director. I want to find help and direction but feel poorly equipped and informed. Sometimes I come close to despair I fear…so yes…I have considered it from the moment I read about it. I feel I am in this dark forest with many trees and I have no idea which way to go to find my way out I run one way and then another running into trees and I soon will perish if I can not find someone who knows where I am and can show me the way out…I am exhausted, I’ll work on a plan more tomorrow!

    • Heidi Cole

      God Bless you Sandra! I am so sorry for your pain, but I am glad you keep coming back to the site! It is a blessing in and of itself. Talk to God and continue to pray, go to Mass and let go of your fear. As has been told to me “leave your fear at the Altar of Jesus.” This has worked for me. I pray that God takes away your fear and brings you into the fold of the His joyous flock. Your longing and desire has brought you to God, please let Him bring you the rest of the way!

      • Sandra Traw

        Heidi..thank you for your words of encouragement and council. Thank you for praying for me. I will read your words often

        • Heidi Cole

          I am a young Catholic, but learning daily and continuing to build my faith like blocks in a foundation, slow and steady. All with God’s help. I am nothing without Him. Step at a time, no running through dark forests. Take God’s hand and go step by step. I don’t know if we are allowed to post our email addresses but you can reach out to me anytime at heidiacole@me.com. I will share all that I can. I am but a young lamb, but secure in the hands of our Shepherd.

    • I was humbled, and consoled the other day by a Statement in a Programme on the EWT. And this gave me hope.”Jesus Understands”. Stop being fearful, just Trust in Him to guide your life. And next time you go for Adoration, talk to Jesus about your fears for your Eternal Destiny.

  • I plan to make a stronger examination of conscience and evening prayer including getting back to writing in a prayer journal. I am a Life Coach and shared this great article on my Facebook page. Growing in holiness is really all that matters. Amazing how hard it is for most people to realize that.

    Dan, you put it all in perspective when you share how fleeting life is and none us know when we will be called home. Thanks for all you do and the beautiful work of Avila Institue. I am a student and have been very spiritually blessed by the Spiritual Theology class and look forward to the next class on prayer.

    • Thank you Jeanette! We are blessed by your participation.

  • LizEst

    1. I’ve begun to recite the “Veni Creator Spiritus” which was recommended to Teresa of Avila. This is not exactly a spiritual New Year’s resolution but it coincides nicely with the timing of it.

    2. Have also done the saint of the year thing. Go here to have a randomly generated saint of the year assigned to you: http://jenniferfulwiler.com/saints/ When you get to the site, click on the link “Find a Saint for Me”. Then, spend a moment in prayer and click on the link “Show Me My Saint”. This saint will be your special patron during the year (and don’t go doing it again just so you get one you like…be happy with God’s will for you!). Invoke him/her often to intercede for you and to show you how you can glorify God. I did this last year with interesting results.

    3. Other things as the Spirit moves and directs.

    Now that we have shared some of our things, have you shared yours yet, Dan? (I ask because I may have missed it and would like to know where to look!)

    A very blessed and happy new year to all and their loved ones. Rejoice in the Lord always!

    • Sandra Traw

      Could you explain “Veni Creator a Spiritus”?

      • LizEst

        The “Veni Creator Spiritus” [there is no “a” in the title] is what we commonly know as the hymn “Come Holy Ghost, Creator Blest”, although the hymn is not a literal translation (this is not to be confused with the sequence or hymn titled “Veni Sanctae Spiritus” or “Come Holy Spirit”. There have been various translations down through the ages. Besides at Pentecost, it is sung when Cardinals enter the Sistine Chapel when electing a pope, at confirmations, during the ceremonies of Holy Orders, at synods and councils, the dedication of churches and many other important events when the Holy Spirit is solemnly invoked. It is believed to have been written by Rabanus Maurus in the 9th century. He was a theologian, Benedictine monk and archbishop of Mainz, Germany.

        You may read one translation of the text here: http://www.ewtn.com/library/prayer/venicrea.txt

        • Sandra Traw

          Thank you

  • patricia

    I have begun to be more open to God’s patterns of his will and to let Go of things I can not control. In this I keep rest and peace. This is not easy since I have been given two prices of disturbing news but I give it to Christ. Meditate more on the passion in which brings volumes of wisdom of who is God to me. More practically I have begun a spiritual journal actually I started it in December so this is new. My resolution is to even trust the darkest moments and know God is there the light in the darkness ready to give his love and mercy and healing. Happy New Year.

  • My Resolution this Year, Dan?????? To continue reminding myself each morning – as I venerate the Divine Mercy Image – that each second, each minute, each hour, each day, each week, each month and each Year that passes, brings me closer to the Moment I shall stand before God to give an account of what I have done in my life!!!!

    I then slowly pray: “My Merciful Jesus, I accept the kind of death You have decreed for me; whenever it will come, however it will come, whichever way it will come. I embrace all the pains, agonies, miseries, bitterness – no matter how long they shall last – the paralyzing uncertainty of my Final Destination which will make me throw myself at Your Unfathomable Mercy and I unite all these with Your Passion for the Salvation of Souls especially the remission of Punishment for the Souls in Purgatory who have no one to pray for them. My Jesus, do come when You are ready and through Your Passion and agonizing Death for my Soul, make me ready when you come. Amen”

  • Here’s an overview of a diagram of the 3-step neurological process that creates a habit from Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit”

    http://charlesduhigg.com/got-a-new-years-resolution-heres-how-to-make-it-stick

  • markiemarie

    My Resolution is That God IS God and I am Not. I believe in The Real Presence Of Jesus who IS with us NOW ! I can point to references , but in my own words I’d say ‘I believe , I adore , I Trust and I Love Thee Jesus ! I ask pardon for those who do not Believe , do not adore, do not trust and do not Love thee, Amen <3'

  • My resolutions this year are pretty much continuation of my resolutions from last year. I made great progress last year – now it’s time to go further.

    1. Establish a habit of daily prayer – I now pray Morning Prayer almost every day. I pray Night Prayer with my family every night. I want to first solidify my daily Morning Prayer routine, then take my prayer deeper.

    2. 2014 will be the year I finally launch my online discipleship program! I’m really excited to see what God does with it. I made a lot of progress laying the groundwork in 2013. I am finally producing videos now.

    3. My third 2013 resolution was to find a balance between by desire to do God’s work in my apostolate and my vocation as husband and father (and primary at-home parent). I did pretty well giving my family more time, but I’m still pretty selfish when it comes to sacrificing work time when they are home from school & work. So I will be doing more heart work in that area.

    Oh and one more! My wife and I are discerning adopting again. We have two adopted children and my wife thought we were done (for financial and personal reasons). God has opened her heart in generosity to the possibility of welcoming more children! So 2014 is going to be a huge year of discernment for us. Prayers would be really appreciated!

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