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Spiritual Fitness in the New Year

As each year begins, many people resolve to exercise and get fit. Beginning a new year is also a good time to reflect on our spiritual lives and enhance our spiritual fitness as well.
Here are some helpful activities to enhance your spiritual fitness for the new year:
Prayer: Reserve time for daily prayer. Intentionally spend half of your prayer time quietly listening to God whispering to your soul.
Examen: A fruitful extension of a healthy prayer life for many people has been a daily examen. Many have grown deeply in their relationship with God through this daily process promoted by St. Ignatius. It is a helpful method for revealing God’s presence to us on our journey through life. An audio explanation of the five simple steps of the daily examen is online here: examen.
Sacraments: Receive the graces of the sacraments as often as you can. Begin a new year with a fresh start. If it’s been a while since you’ve been to reconciliation, commit to go soon and place a monthly reminder on your calendar to return. Mass is celebrated daily at most parishes. Attend when possible and / or try to read and reflect on God’s Word in the scripture readings for daily Mass. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops provides them online at: Mass readings.
Focus and Habits: Develop spiritually healthy habits to replace former negative patterns of behavior or thought. Do something good when tempted to do wrong or when you realize that you’ve been negligent or indifferent. Recognize when you detect yourself slipping into uncharitable, unloving, selfish, or unholy thoughts. When this occurs, take a breath and pray a silent brief prayer asking for the grace to navigate every situation in a manner pleasing to God. Remember that when Peter began sinking into the lake, he cried out to Jesus, and Jesus immediately helped him.
People: A sign of a healthy spiritual life is our care for others and how we treat people. Reach out to others in need in a deliberate way. Be a living sign of God’s love for others by performing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The works of mercy are explained in paragraph 2447 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and are online at: works of mercy.
In caring for others, make every day an All Souls Day and remember to offer prayers for the forgotten souls in Purgatory. This is a generous act of care and love.
These back-to-the-basics ideas, when implemented in our lives daily, can deepen our relationship with God, fill us with greater peace, and help each of us on our journey to holiness.
Happy New Year.
Christopher Burns is a member of RENEW International’s Resources and Publications team.

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