This morning, the First Sunday of Advent, marked the beginning of a new liturgical year in the Church so everything has been feeling so shiny and new, like the first day of a new year should - and I'm writing to tell you Happy Catholic New Year!
It's like a blank canvas, or a starting page, and with that comes such a great deal of hope. It is so fitting that Advent begins our liturgical year because it is so specifically about hope - we walk alongside the expectant virgin mother and her spouse as we await the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ! There is so much joy in all of it, but we experience it a more quiet way than the joy of Christmas. During Advent, we try to simplify our lives, to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, and to prepare our hearts for Christ's arrival.
With a new year comes resolutions. And while some resolutions may be silly or superficial, setting goals or at least being mindful about our faith life at the start of each new year can truly enrich and deepen our walk with Christ in so many ways.
If we take this day (or this week) to reflect on our lives in the past year, we can begin to see what spiritual, emotional, physical, etc. habits we've developed and what sort of impact it's had on our life in general and especially our faith life.
Here are a few resources to help us reflect & discern which areas we might need to make a change:
- Fourteen Spiritual Exercises to Help Foster Spiritual Life by Fr. Wade Menezes -To preface this list, I would suggest trying to add one habit in at a time - going for fourteen exercises at once would be extremely difficult and would likely lead to burn-out.
- Examination of Conscience from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops
- An Advent Examination of Consicence (based on the Advent "O" Antiphons)
- New Year's Resolutions - Suggestions from Pope Francis (from last year)
In this new liturgical year, I've felt that I really need to make more time for intentional & disciplined daily prayer and Scripture study. For me, this is the biggest change I see myself needing to make. I'm going to try to pray the Rosary once a week, to figure out which part of my day I can consistently set aside for prayer and Bible reading, and also try to visit our parish perpetual adoration chapel once a week. I'd also like to grow closer to and better understand Mary and the Saints - I'd particularly like to try to understand what role they play in my life (new Catholic problem). I thought this episode of Coffee & Pearls was inspiring (as always) - Find Your Saint BFF.
Moving into Advent, here are a few of my favorite articles written by fellow Catholic mamas on living liturgically, simplifying, and finding joy (plus a few Christmas gift ideas):
- Mama Needs Coffee: A Simple Advent Plan
- Carrots for Michaelmas: Liturgical Living December
- Fountains of Home: Perfect Catholic children's books for shoes, stockings, and under the tree
I'm so thankful for you and I hope you are walking into Advent with a feeling of joyful renewal and hope as we prepare our hearts for Christmas!
What are your Catholic New Year's resolutions? Share them in the comments - I'd love to hear what your prayers and goals are for this new year, and I'd be so blessed to be able to pray for you in any way!