As the new year approaches, I’m sure most people are thinking about and seeking ways to improve themselves with strengthened resolve. Fresh start! Clean slate! Start anew!
And while we dream up of things like working out more, taking on a new skill, earning some other achievement, etc… How about strengthening our resolve to do something more with our Catholic faith?
Personally, I’m usually on some continuous improvement effort regarding my Catholic faith. Due to the immensity of Catholicism, sometimes it’s best to ease into doing more and learning more.
So I’ve put together 13 (for 2013!) fairly easy suggestions:
- Attend Daily Mass once a week. Because believe it or not, we’re spoiled as Catholics to be able to worship on a daily basis. Not every parish offers Mass every day or at convenient times, but surely a parish near you offers something that could work. I know masstimes.org offers an easy way to search for parishes and their Mass times. For further enticing, daily Mass is often a lot shorter than Sunday Mass.
- Pray one of the Liturgy of the Hours once a day. The second highest form of prayer in the Church is the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours (the Mass is the highest). It’s a way to “pray unceasingly,” as St. Paul writes, at specific times of the day. Praying the Divine Office is required for clergy and religious, but us lay people can share in this form of prayer with them. What’s cool to think about is that whenever you’re praying the Liturgy of the Hours, Catholics around the world are doing the same! Here’s how to pray it, and my favorite app/webapp for it.
- Abstain from eating meat on all Fridays. Did you know that as Catholics we’re supposed to observe some form of penance on Fridays? Canon law specifies abstinence from meat throughout the year, not just Lent. However, bishops can petition the Vatican to allow other forms of penance or charity, which is the case here in the US. Read more here. And I personally didn’t know that til recently…
- Read Daily Readings every day. So if you don’t make it to Daily Mass…you can at least read the readings for the day! Just remember that these Daily Readings follow their own schedule apart (though sometimes similar) from Sunday’s Readings. If you see on the left menu of my blog, I link to Fr. Alfonse’s Daily Meditations. He offers his own meditation and thoughts on the Gospel reading and I’m often a fan of his insight and how he relates to the Gospel reading of the day. Anyway, as St. Jerome once said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” So don’t ignore!
- Go to Adoration once a week. Again, we are so spoiled as Catholics that we have opportunities to go before Jesus, truly present–body, blood, soul, and divinity… and just…adore Him. As Christians, we not only proclaim Him as our lord and savior, but seek that intimate relationship with Him. And like any relationship, what good does it do by ignoring the other? What good does it do by not speaking to the other? We can definitely ‘find Jesus in the temple’ #JoyfulMysteryPun and just spend time with Him, in person. Yes, I have had staring contests with Jesus and He always wins. Masstimes.org also gives Adoration times. I also know of this website that gives times/places of where you can find Perpetual Adoration (in Texas, but main site links to other states)!
- Post a Catholic status or tweet something Catholic frequently. Hey, if Pope Benedict XVI can tweet, so can you! The Internet is just as important of a place to create a Catholic culture because it lets you connect easily to real people. You never know when what you post is just what someone needs. Just be charitable and be prepared to make a defense for the joy that’s within you. 😀
- Pray a Rosary once a week. The Rosary is a great way to reflect on the life of Christ by praying with His Blessed Mother. St. Louis Du Montfort wrote a book entitled, The Secret of the Rosary, and it offers a beautiful perspective on the Rosary. I love how he explains how the Rosary was used against demons. Worth a read! You can either buy it or read it online.
- Go to Confession at least once a month. A sincere confession is definitely a good thing. It’s a great way to reflect on ways you’ve fallen short and have the resolve to do better for next time. A certain kind of humility transpires as a fruit of confessing one’s sins, which makes it more conducive for the soul to be receptive of God’s graces. A lot of healing too, in confession. Recently, a blog post came out regarding a priest’s perspective on the sacrament of reconciliation–worth the read to gain better appreciation of it! And fun fact: supposedly Mother Teresa and Blessed Pope John Paul II went to confession. every. day. Or at the very least, very very very frequently. Lol, sometimes I need to go once a week… #havemercyonmeasinner
- Read the Catechism every day. Rejoice! We are in the Year of Faith! Pope Benedict XVI has named this year from Oct ’12 to Nov ’13 as the Year of Faith in his apostolic letter, Porto Fidei (The Door of Faith). Purposely and coincidentally, the Catechism of the Catholic Church celebrates its 20th anniversary during the Year of Faith and Pope Benedict XVI has asked us Catholics to spend the time and study the Catechism (and to study the docs of Vatican II, which has its 50th anniversary this year as well). I recommend reading the Catechism every day because a fellow Fightin’ Texas Aggie Catholic has made it really easy to receive morsels of the Catechism in your email each day. It’s not too late! We’re only in the mid-500s (paragraph numbers, not years)! You can sign up here: Read The Catechism In A Year. I’m actually learning a lot and the Catechism is such an invaluable resource on outlining what we Catholics believe.
- Attend a prayerful retreat. Our life is often a battle of the visible and invisible things. And sometimes we need to retreat and regroup. Praise God that there are opportunities for everyone! I know for college kids there is Awakening, for adults there is A.C.T.S. and Cursillo. For middle and high school there’s Youth 2000. Married couples can attend marriage-specific retreats too! I mean, the list goes on and on and on and on. Check out your parish bulletin or diocesan website to see what’s going on!
- Get involved with a new ministry. One quick glance through the any parish bulletin and it’s probably easy to see that a number of different ministries could use help. Involvement in ministries is great because you can connect with (often many) members of the parish. Some examples are the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Daughters, various prayer groups, ministry to the homeless, ministry to the sick, parish mission councils, etc. And then there is getting involved with Mass as Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, Lector, Usher, choir, altar server, etc. The nice thing with getting involved with Mass is that the work is highly transferable, no matter where you go 😉
- Read a book about a saint or a saint’s works. What’s nice about being part of something that has lasted for 2000 years is that a lot of work and thought has already been done. We just need to dig back into history and see what’s there. And as a Christian, we need solid examples of what it means to be Christian and what better place to look than the saints? Here, then, are the heroic and exceptional examples of men, women, and children who lived a Christ-centered life. I’ve featured a few saints on this blog, but there are so many more! Find a saint you are intrigued by and read up on them! Bonus points if they’ve written a lot of works and if you read them!
- Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at least once a week. We can begin to show mercy to others when we ask for Jesus’ Divine Mercy. He reveals His call for us to show mercy to others through St. Faustina. And one of the devotions to Divine Mercy is praying the Chaplet. You pray the Chaplet on Rosary beads, but it is shorter than a Rosary! I like this prayer because it really helps me focus on Jesus’ Passion.
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