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Spiritual Fitness in the New Year

Dec 16, 2021

Author: Kaitlin Scirri

Each year, December 31 brings a mix of emotions. There are celebrations and expectations. There are high hopes for a new year and thoughts of a fresh start. There are also last ditch efforts to complete a goal before the clock strikes midnight. There are resolutions to be made, diets to be outlined, and exercise equipment to be assembled. A new year is a time of hope, a fresh start, a new beginning.

Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions have to do with physical fitness. These include eating better, working out more, and quitting unhealthy habits like smoking or drinking too much. These are great resolutions, as physical health should be a priority in our lives. But what about when it comes to our spiritual health?

The truth is, as critical as we can be over our physical state, we often give ourselves a free pass when it comes to the state of our soul, dismissing certain sins as no big deal. Just as we do with our physical appearance, we often compare ourselves to others when it comes to our spirituality. I know I sin, we may think, but at least I’m not as bad as him or her. We try to justify our behavior with the fact that it could be worse. Sure, we could always make worse choices than the ones we did. But why did we choose the sin at all?

A while back I was recovering from surgery. Once I started feeling better, the hardest part was accepting my physical limitations. I desperately wanted to be active, to workout, to even do housework again! But I didn’t. I resisted the desire and the temptation because I didn’t want to hurt myself. As badly as I desired those things, I knew that doing them could hurt me physically and set back my recovery. So I resisted the temptation to do things I shouldn’t.

When it comes to our spiritual health, we should think about sinning in the same way. We should resist the temptation to do things we shouldn’t. Unfortunately, we often only think about what we desire in the moment. We don’t stop to reflect on why we shouldn’t be doing that particular sin. We don’t think about hurting ourselves spiritually or setting back any healing we’ve been working toward.

So maybe this year we should focus on spiritual resolutions just as much as physical resolutions. We could resolve to quit a bad spiritual habit such as turning to worldly things for comfort instead of turning to God. Maybe we should exercise our faith more with daily reading of the Word. Why not resolve to feed our souls with healthier “food” that nourishes us spiritually?

No matter how hard we try to resist sin, we will fall. We are human, and we will always be sinners here on earth. So maybe we should resolve to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation more often. This Sacrament of healing allows us to receive God’s forgiveness and celebrate a fresh start, sort of like a mini New Year each time. I know that for some, monthly confession may sound excessive. But truthfully, it’s twelve times. Twelves times in an entire year. Twelve days out of 365. Twelve chances to receive God’s forgiveness and grace.

The truth is that no matter how many times we sin, God still loves us and longs to spend time with us. Below are some examples of ways to exercise your faith in daily life. How will you stay spiritually fit in this new year?

  • Pray more
    I often hear from people that they’d like to have a stronger prayer life but don’t have time to pray. But prayers don’t have to be long or complicated. They need only come from the heart. Try carrying a prayer card with you or memorize a short prayer that you can recite throughout your day. Or keep a prayer book by your bed and resolve to pray a prayer when you wake and before you sleep each day.
  • Spend time in God’s Word daily
    Check out the Bible in a Year podcast from Ascension. It’s available free on many podcast platforms as well as on the Ascension Presents YouTube channel.

  • Attend daily Mass at least once a week. St. Mary’s offers daily Mass at noon Monday – Friday. Or check with other local parishes who offer morning and evening Mass if that fits your schedule better. Work downtown? Several parishes in Buffalo like St. Michael Church and St. Joseph’s Cathedral also offer daily Mass.

  • Take a break from social media and worldly entertainment and enjoy Christian content like The Chosen and Formed (St. Mary’s parishioners can sign up for a free Formed account by entering zip code 14086 and searching for St. Mary’s)

  • Celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. St. Mary’s offers Reconciliation every Saturday from 3:30 – 4:00 p.m. You may also call the Rectory at (716) 683-6445 to make an appointment with Father Paul.

From the St. Mary’s Parish Family to your family, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!