Happy New Year! We are grateful to God for seeing us over the threshold of a new calendar year, and we pray that 2021 will be one that will see the end of our current pandemic and the return to a somewhat normal life.
With a new year comes a fresh start — and not just for more organized homes or a renewed plan for healthy eating. We also have the opportunity to get our spiritual houses in order. In this week’s issue, Deacon Greg Kandra offers readers 10 New Year’s resolutions to consider embracing from a Catholic perspective, especially after the year we’ve all just experienced. After encouraging that we resolve to embrace more prayer, gratitude, frequent reception of the sacraments and works of mercy, among other things, Deacon Kandra reminds us that no 2021 list of resolutions can be complete without proper reflection on 2020.
With that in mind, we offer a few reflections and corresponding resolutions that we hope will help you turn the page on 2020 and enter into 2021 with renewed spiritual zeal.
Reflect: Did I think about, pray for and support others enough last year, especially those who may have been struggling financially, mentally or physically? Or was I too concerned with my own well-being?
Resolve: Commit to praying for those in need throughout the day. Keep a list hanging on the refrigerator of names of those who have asked for your prayers. Make an effort to pray daily for the sick and their caregivers. Pray the Litany of Humility daily.
Reflect: Did I maintain a connection with my parish in 2020? Have I continued to financially contribute? Or did out of sight become out of mind?
Resolve: Reconnect with a priest or deacon at your parish. Ask what their needs are and how you can (safely) become involved. Consider a financial donation to express your support and gratitude for all your parish has done during the pandemic.
Reflect: Did I take advantage of the emptier 2020 calendar to actively pursue a stronger prayer life? Did I make talking to God a priority every day?
Resolve: Don’t miss the opportunity to create good habits now, while the relative quiet continues. Pick one time and space during the day that will be conducive for prayer, and then follow through.
Reflect: Despite the hardships of 2020, did I manage to express gratitude to God for his blessings? Did I find joy in the small, unexpected gifts of everyday life?
Resolve: Be more intentional about saying “thank you” to God. If you do not pray before meals, now is a great time to start. (If you do pray before meals, add grace after meals as well.) Be vocal with your loved ones about your attitude of gratitude each day. Keep a running list of all for which you are grateful. Don’t give thanks only in the month of November.
Reflect: Did I connect enough with my family? In the first few weeks of “lockdown” in 2020, forts were built, and time at home with loved ones was treasured. As the pandemic continued, did the familial closeness?
Resolve: Put down your device, and engage with your kids or spouse intentionally every day. We shouldn’t have to wait for a pandemic to be sure to set aside time just for family life. Loving your family well — starting with your spouse — is key to any healthy domestic church.
Reflect: Did I make an attempt to see the “face behind the mask”?
Resolve: With our newest accessories, it can be all too tempting or easy to avert our eyes when interacting with others. When speaking to someone else, from a safe distance, do your best to smile with your eyes, not just your mouth. Let the people in front of you see that you see them, and that they matter.
Reflect: With so much fear, frustration and conflict in the last year, did I do my part to pursue and advance the cause of peace?
Resolve: In his message for this year’s World Day of Peace (Jan. 1), Pope Francis says there can be no peace without a “culture of care” that advocates for “a common, supportive and inclusive commitment to protecting and promoting the dignity and good of all, a willingness to show care and compassion, to work for reconciliation and healing, and to advance mutual respect and acceptance.” May we make such a commitment in 2021.
Our Sunday Visitor Editorial Board: Gretchen R. Crowe, Scott P. Richert, Scott Warden, York Young