I know what sells magazines. Tell people how they can look and feel better than their neighbor as defined by our secular and materialistic media. And, if you do want to lose 20 lbs by Christmas, you can. There are about 2,000 different diet plans that will get you there. The keys to success are setting goals, having accountability, eating less, and moving more. It’s not rocket science. But, I did not really want to write a post on weight loss tips. What I wanted my title to read is, “How to get closer to God by Christmas.” How do we get closer to God? Closeness to God is difficult to quantify, but I think we can use the same approach to spiritual well-being as we do our physical well-being.
First, we can set spiritual goals. Goal setting helps us to be mindful and intentional in our behavior. Have you ever set a spiritual goal? What would that look like? A good goal is both measurable and achievable. For example, I will do spiritual reading for 20 minutes each morning for 2 weeks. Reading daily for 20 minutes might be achievable for some, but not for others. So, know your abilities and limitations. Once you achieve this goal, you can reflect on your experience by asking yourself if you feel that your faith is strengthened. We will face many challenges to our faith everyday. Setting spiritual goals will help us to be better prepared to accept those challenges. Moreover, if you set apart a time to think about discuss, and write your goals, you will be more likely to achieve them.
Next, incorporate accountability into your spiritual growth. You can get your spouse to do this with you. Or you can ask a friend or group of friends to join you. Being a part of the Catholic Sistas has helped me immensely. We chat online daily and share ways that we are “dying to self” each day. In other words, we discuss challenges and sufferings that we are offering up without complaining. Or, if you want to keep your growth personal and private, you can keep a journal and check off each time you make your goal. The journal can also be a place to record your thoughts about your spiritual journey.
Families can set goals, too. My family would like to get together to say the rosary. But, often, life gets in the way and days and weeks pass without a family rosary. However, if we set a goal together as a family, one that is measurable and achievable, then, we are much more likely to sit down together. A daily family rosary with five kids, two of whom are toddlers, is not achievable for us. However, we can gather at least once a week, perhaps on Sunday evenings, to say a family rosary. If we do this with success for 2 weeks, then maybe we can start gathering twice a week. Kids are great for accountability. They know that gathering for the rosary is a special family time and they will begin to remind you and request a family rosary. I know, because my son often reminds us.
Eat less and move more?
Well, that doesn’t apply to spiritual growth, directly. But, you can certainly sin less and do more works of mercy. How do you sin less? First, start with a clean slate. Make a thorough examination of your conscience. Then, go to confession, as James says, “Therefore, confess our sins to one another” We can always just bow our heads and pray. But since Christ instituted the sacrament of confession by saying, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained,” we know that to be the most pleasing way to confess our sins. Therefore we will be absolved of all our sins and receive sanctifying grace. At this time, we can pray that we avoid those same sins in the future. Set a confession goal, too. My family makes it a goal to go once per month. Frequent confession is the key to sinning less.
Increasing works of mercy is another way to grow closer to God. And, goal setting will help you achieve this. The 40 days for life campaign starts today. This is a wonderful work of mercy that will increase your faith, grow closer to God and help the most innocent members of our human family. My daughter and I participated in the Spring. It was a wonderful thing to share with her and to be able to instill in her not only the value of every human life but also her role in protecting life. And, we enjoyed the fellowship with others who were working towards the same personal and community goals.
Having accountability partners will also make it more likely that you will do more works of mercy. My husband and family are also my accountability partners. We have a family friend who is in a nursing home. And, if we do not set a goal and schedule a visit, life gets in the way. And before we know it a week goes by, or a month or several months before we realize that we have not visited our friend. We cannot let that happen. If we do achieve our goal, we not only please a friend but also and we find ourselves in compliance with Christ’s greatest commandment, to love one another as He loves us.
Of course, I might want to think about those weight loss goals, too. I mean, what is Christmas without cookies and candy canes? It might be good to make a little exta room for all that yumminess without feeling too guilty.
What are you doing to increase your faith? What goal can you or your family set that will inspire others in their spiritual growth?