January 20, 2023

Looking for some different ways to grow closer to God in the new year? Try these!

A wife, a mother and the director of the office of stewardship and development for the archdiocese, Jolinda Moore shares the one word that she hopes will guide her to a more meaningful year in her work, her personal life and her relationship with Christ. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

A wife, a mother and the director of the office of stewardship and development for the archdiocese, Jolinda Moore shares the one word that she hopes will guide her to a more meaningful year in her work, her personal life and her relationship with Christ. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

(Editor’s note: Hoping to help our readers who are seeking to grow in their faith this year, The Criterion asked ministry leaders in the archdiocese to share new year’s resolutions that have helped them and that they’re planning to do in 2023. Here are some of their approaches and resolutions.)
 

By John Shaughnessy

Like many people who make new year’s resolutions, Jolinda Moore admits that her track record of keeping them has never been good—until she tried a different approach a few years ago.

It’s an approach that the mother of three learned about while listening to a Christian radio station, an approach that revolved around choosing just one word that would become a grounding point for her throughout the year.

The idea was to focus on that one word as she prayed, interacted with others and reflected on her life and her faith.

“At first, I wondered if the idea was just an ‘easy out’ for setting resolutions, but I gave it a try because I had been failing with my resolutions,” says Moore, the director of the office of stewardship and development for the archdiocese.

Some of the words she has focused on in recent years include “joy,” “presence” and “grace.” And the words and the process have made a difference for her.

“It has been a wonderful experience for me and brought me many moments of reflection and reminders to enlist God’s help and guidance,” Moore says.

“While the word is important for the new year, just as important is the self-reflection of setting the word. I find the process of asking God to guide me to the right word to be enlightening and motivational. I also find that the word selected is very relevant as I deal with situations throughout the year, whether they be personal or professional.”

Once Moore chooses her word for the year, she writes it down at her desk so she can see it. She also puts it on her phone and posts it on other places where she knows she will notice it.

Her word for 2023 is “Intentional.”

“Typically, when I pick my word, it comes from looking back on what I failed to do in the last year,” she says. “In the last year, it seemed everything was important, which causes nothing to be important. We have this world of technology that is telling us that everything is a priority. So ‘intentional’ came from the idea that you don’t need an immediate response for everything. The important thing is to think through how you should respond.”

She’s especially hoping the word will help her in her nightly conversations with God.

“I sometimes struggle with how to start a prayer,” she says. “With my word, I have a place to start my dialogue with God every night. ‘Thank you, God, for the opportunity to be successful in being intentional.’ And then starting the dialogue with him about the areas where I wasn’t intentional.

“When you pick the word, you know that every day you’re going to fail at the word, but every day you’re also going to have the opportunity to be successful. And even when you fail at your word, you get an opportunity to grow.”

And growth is what Moore is striving for—in her work, her personal life and her relationship with God.

“This has been a very powerful process that I have enjoyed.”

Dialing in on a different way to pray

Bruce Scifres was so intent on his new year resolution for this year that he began it in the last part of 2022.

“I felt I was not making enough time to pray each day,” says Scifres, executive director of the archdiocese’s Catholic Youth Organization.

“So, for the past several months, I have not turned the radio on in my car when I am driving—anywhere. I have committed to make this a time where I can reflect quietly on the many blessings in my life and just spend time speaking with and listening to God. This has proven to be pretty awesome!”

At the same time, Scifres sees a way to take that approach to a new level in 2023.

“My resolution for 2023, as I am praying, is to ask God every day to use me to do his will.

“This ask is the easy part. The more challenging part will be to listen with an open heart, and then commit my life each day to doing what he has planned for me. I am looking forward to taking on this challenge.”

Embracing Christ’s example of hospitality

Gabriela Ross kept thinking about the message of Christmas as she made her new year’s resolution.

“The season of Christmas is so beautiful because it encourages us to make room in our hearts for the coming of Christ,” says Ross, director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life for the archdiocese. “I want to extend that spiritual practice of hospitality from Christ to neighbor, especially in our church home.”

So, the mother of two small children has resolved to try “to show hospitality to the people around me in church” in several ways.

“This could be offering a word of greeting after Mass to the person in the pew in front of me or behind me,” she says. “And making an effort to sit no more than one pew away from other people in order to be close enough to say hello or give them a sign of peace.”

Ross has also resolved to do her part in improving a situation that is common in many churches—“to be conscious to sit in the middle of the pew, the place that never gets filled, to allow for late comers to Mass to fill in the outside of the pew, which is easier to get to. And greeting them with a smile when they do rush in at the last minute.”

Beyond the courtesy of that resolution, Ross hopes her approach makes an impact on a reality that seems prevalent in today’s world.

“I believe that we have been conditioned to be isolated in recent times and need to remember how to engage with those around us who form the body of Christ,” Ross says. “One way to invite Christ’s healing into our hearts, our relationships and our community is by acknowledging one another and making space— literally, in the outside part of the pew—for one another.

“It is something I hope to do more of myself, and I think could be fruitful for others who go to Mass.”

Humbly following the approach of a saint

Believing there are many paths that can be taken to have a deeper relationship with God this year, Ellen Brown has committed to applying this quote from St. Theodora Guérin to her life:

“We are not called upon to do all the good possible, but only that which we can do.”

Brown has long strived to make a difference in the lives of senior citizens in her work for Catholic Charities Indianapolis in the archdiocese. This year, she says her approach will also include this emphasis, “Focus on what you can do, embrace it, and bring it to fruition. And whenever possible, invite others to join their aspirations with mine, each one strengthening the others.”

Striving to heal others—and ourselves

Theresa Chamblee strives to help people who are struggling in life in her work as the director of social concerns for Catholic Charities in the archdiocese.

Her spiritual goal for 2023 is to deepen her resolve to help people embrace the goodness and the dignity of their lives.

“In the ministry work of walking with and serving those in need, it can be very tempting to see them in only their brokenness,” Chamblee says. “With God’s grace, I want to see each person I encounter in their wholeness, as God sees them—created beautifully in his image.  

“At the same time, we recognize that it is in our brokenness that we understand our need for healing.”

Chamblee views this resolution as a path to deepen her bonds with her extended family—the people she lives with, the people she serves, the people who touch her life.

“In this new year, I will continue to seek healing for myself and my family and hopefully, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, be an instrument of healing for others.”

Seeking to hear the voice of the Lord

For Brian Disney, his two spiritual goals for 2023 are succinct.

The superintendent of Catholic schools for the archdiocese has resolved to participate in Father Mike Schmitz’s “Catechism in a Year” podcast.

“It will help me to continue to grow in knowledge of—and love for—the Church.”

He also wants to spend at least one hour every week in eucharistic adoration, a goal that leads to the essence of all spiritual resolutions.

“I want to spend time in silence with the Lord, to worship him and to hear his voice.” †

 

Related story: Ministry leaders share ways for people to grow in their faith

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