2022 brings a new opportunity to grow closer to God. Here are a list of 22 ways to get holier this year:
1. Befriend a saint
The Catholic Church has produced many inspiring saints. But, it’s a great idea to choose a few specific saints to get extra close to. We can ask for their intercession and dive deeper into their lives.
Choose a saint to read more about. Find any books that they wrote. Ask for their intercession and look to them for inspiration.
2. Pray before meals… and after them
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31
To eat and drink without a thought about God makes us live automatically: like animals. A great way to bring Christ into our food is to always give thanks before eating. You can even say a prayer after the meal!
Prayer Before Meals
Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer After Meals
We give Thee thanks for all your benefits, O Almighty God, Who lives and reigns forever; and may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
3. Take care of your body
Taking care of your body is essential to holiness:
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?” – 1 Corinthians 6:19
The body is a gift from God. Taking care of the body helps us also take care of our mind and spirit. How is your:
We should also remember why we take care of our bodies: so that we can continue to love God and our neighbors well!
4. Ask God who He’s calling you to evangelize
Jesus calls us to evangelize the world:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20
This can be an overwhelming call, leading us to not know where to start. Instead, ask God who one specific person He might be calling for you to invest in.
After you figure out who that person is, ask the Holy Spirit how He wants you to help them.
Should you build up the friendship and spend more time with them? If you’re already good friends, should you ask deeper questions?
5. Examine your conscience every night
This simple daily habit can change your life. Examining how we did during the day gives us a foundation to improve.
If we’re blind to where we are, how can we change our actions? Seeing our faults gives us the opportunity to improve our lives.
Not only that, we can see where things are going well. In those areas, we should ask God for the grace to keep it up!
Examining your conscience doesn’t need to take long at all, even only 5 minutes. It’s a great way to end the day before going to bed.
St. Ignatius of Loyola offers a five-step method:
- Become aware of God’s presence.
- Review the day with gratitude.
- Pay attention to your emotions.
- Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
- Look toward tomorrow.
6. Enter into the liturgical seasons with a plan
Oftentimes, Ash Wednesday or the first Sunday of Advent sneak up on us when we least expect it.
This will give you an opportunity to prepare. You’ll have more time to pray with the Lord and ask Him how He wants to work in your life through Lent and Advent.
Hint – here are the starting dates:
- Lent – Wednesday, March 2nd, 2022
- Easter – Sunday, April 17th, 2022
- Advent – Sunday, November 27th, 2022
7. Go to adoration more often
In adoration we pray with Jesus, fully present in the Eucharist.
“A thousand years of enjoying human glory is not worth even an hour spent in sweetly communing with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.” – St. Padre Pio
Look up where adoration is available near you. It’s usually in the sacrament schedule for parishes, next to Mass and confession times.
Schedule in regular prayer time with Jesus in adoration. Invite a friend who hasn’t been before. You can even sign up for a regular weekly adoration time slot at your parish.
8. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet
The Divine Mercy Chaplet is an important devotion for the faithful. It focuses on Christ’s mercy and His love for His Church. Jesus appeared to St. Faustina and revealed this specific set of prayers to her.
“My daughter, encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given to you. It pleases Me to grant everything they ask of Me by saying the chaplet. When hardened sinners say it, I will fill their souls with peace, and the hour of their death will be a happy one.” – Diary of St. Faustina, 1541
The preferred time for praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet is in the “hour of mercy” from 3pm – 4pm. This calls to mind the hour that Jesus died. The preferred day to pray the devotion is on Friday. If you don’t yet pray the chaplet, try praying it every Friday at 3pm.
9. Listen to more sacred music
After many centuries, sacred music continues to raise souls toward God.
“The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy.” – Sacrosanctum Concilium, 112
Technology gives us instant access to the greatest Catholic musical works ever. Start exploring the different works and let them lift your soul to God. Here are some examples:
10. Pray mental prayer every day
Daily mental prayer is essential for holiness. St. Teresa of Ávila describes it as “. . . nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.” St. Alphonsus Liguori also writes:
“Mental prayer is the blessed furnace in which souls are inflamed with the love of God. All the saints have become saints by mental prayer.”
Here are simple steps to getting started:
- Take time to recognize the presence of God. He is present in every baptized soul in a state of grace. God is also uniquely present in the Eucharist.
- Reflect on a spiritual topic. This can range from a passage from the Scriptures to a struggle in your daily life.
- Bring the topic to God and have a dialogue. Speak to him with confidence, like a child to their father. Make room to listen to what He has to say.
- Other potential additions include:
- Thanking God
- Praising and adoring God for His greatness
- Repentance for faults
- Petitioning God for graces, for yourself and for others
- We should leave prayer time with a great desire to grow closer to God and improve our lives. Make a specific resolution that you can achieve before the next time in mental prayer.
If you aren’t in the habit of praying mental prayer every day, try just 5 minutes per day. When you’re ready, increase it to 10. Eventually reaching 30 minutes per day will transform your life for holiness.
11. Read spiritual reading
Spiritual reading helps us both learn more about the faith and inspire us to strive after God. It includes both spiritual classics and the Bible.
Regular spiritual reading will help you keep a supernatural outlook throughout the day. Plus, you can also listen to spiritual talks and watch spiritual videos to grow in the faith.
Spiritual reading doesn’t have to be dense. Here are short, yet powerful spiritual books to start with:
- Interior Freedom by Fr. Jacques Philippe
- Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis
- Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Philippe
12. Get a spiritual director
A spiritual director helps guide you along the spiritual journey. It takes humility to put our spiritual lives in the hands of someone else, but many saints recommend it.
Spiritual directors guide us through the spiritual life. They especially help explain the graces we receive in mental prayer. They can help us to discern whether our experiences are coming from God or not.
Spiritual direction grows our humility and opens our hearts to greater holiness.
13. Build virtuous friendships
We aren’t meant to take on the journey to heaven alone. The laity have parish communities. Religious orders have community. Even Jesus didn’t send out His disciples alone:
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.” – Luke 10:1
Share your new goals and desires with a friend and hear about theirs. Keep each other accountable. Support each other. Pray together. Go on mission together.
14. Go to confession more often
In Confession, Jesus wants to pour His mercy upon us and completely forgive our sins. We leave the confessional healed and with even more grace to fight for virtue.
“Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin, all hope consists in confession; in confession there is a chance for mercy.” – St. Isidore of Seville
When you examine yourself every night, it also makes it easier to prepare for Confession. You learn where you’re at, how to grow, and you have the Divine Physician ready to help you the moment you ask.
15. Get more involved with serving the poor
Every Christian must serve the poor, growing a deep love for them.
“And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’” – Matthew 25:40
Look up what ways your parish is serving the poor and get involved. Find ways to serve in your community. For inspiration, check the corporal works of mercy:
- Feed the hungry
- Give drink to the thirsty
- Clothe the naked
- Shelter the homeless
- Visit the sick
- Visit the imprisoned
- Bury the dead
16. Pray the rosary more often
The rosary is one of the most important prayers in the Catholic Church. Through it, we ask Mary for her intercession. Many saints have recommended it.
“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day be led astray. This is a statement that I would gladly sign with my blood.” – St. Louis de Montfort
At its core, the rosary involves meditating on the life of Christ. For example, when we ponder His Passion or His Resurrection, something new can strike us. Asking for Mary’s intercession is a classic way to stay close to her Son.
If you don’t pray the rosary, try beginning with praying it on Saturdays – a special day dedicated to Mary. Once that becomes habit, trying praying the rosary more often, even daily.
17. Learn more about the Church and theology
Catholicism is rich in theology and history; it can overwhelm anyone who tries to learn more. Still, learning more about the faith is an important duty for every Catholic.
When we grow our minds, it strengthens our own faith and gives us a foundation to defend it. Also, we should have a desire to learn more about God if we love Him.
When we love someone, we want to know as much as we can about them. Learning about who God and the Catholic Church enhance our love for them.
18. Go to Mass more often, even if it isn’t Sunday
Mass is the most important part of our lives. At Mass, we have the opportunity to be present at Calvary. We get to receive the Eucharist, the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
“Put all the good works in the world against one Holy Mass; they will be as a grain of sand beside a mountain.” – St. John Vianney
Going to Mass more is one of the best things we can do for our souls. Look up when churches near you have Mass during the week. Try going to a Mass in the middle of the week and see how it changes you.
19. Learn how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours
The Liturgy of the Hours is the written prayers of the Church. Priests and religious around the world pray it together, at all times.
Praying the Liturgy of the Hours allows us to pray in unity with the rest of the Church. They include the seasons and feast days, bringing us into the liturgical calendar.
There are a few different places to find the prayers:
- Online: Divineoffice.org
- Mobile App: iBreviary for iOS, iBreviary for Android
- Physical Book: Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours
20. Brainstorm ways to get more involved in your parish
The parish is the primary place for Catholic community. It gives us the opportunity to invest deeper in relationships and serve the Church.
Learn about what activities and ministries your parish offers. Ask God if He might be calling you to start a ministry there.
If you aren’t registered at one, take the opportunity to place down roots at one. As you grow in personal holiness, spread that desire to those in your parish.
21. Read a daily meditation from a meditation book
Meditation books combine many of the earlier ideas into one. They help us learn more and inspire us to strive after holiness. Getting into mental prayer, meditation books provide conversation topics when talking with God.
They can be even more fruitful when they match up with the liturgical seasons and help us grow even more. Here are two famous ones:
22. Make a plan of life
We fill our lives with so many activities and distractions. The only way to keep the most important parts is to make a plan.
A plan of life is a set of guidelines you place on yourself to help keep you on track in the spiritual life. It helps prevent saving things for the last minute or abandoning them altogether.
A plan of life helps you keep order and consistency on the path to heaven. It should be specific, yet flexible. One example could be examining your conscience every night. Another could be reading a chapter of the Bible every day. One of the most important things you can do is schedule when your daily prayer time is.
Resolve to make a plan of life this year. Incorporate some of the earlier ideas. With consistency and confidence in God’s grace, you will become a great saint.