A Catholic’s Quick Guide to Goal Setting

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New Year’s is a time most people take to reflect on the year already past, and dream of the ways they’d like to grow. We set resolutions that we believe will bring us closer to our goals. When Catholics engage in this practice, they should to make sure that all our resolutions not only bring us closer to our goals, but closer to the heart of God—our ultimate end.

One of the best exhortations written by St. John Paul II was Pastores Dabo Vobis on the formation of priests in the modern era. Although most reading this article are probably not priests, there is still much wisdom to be gained. St. John Paul II moved to ensure that priests would be lead in a comprehensive formation that would involve the human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral. These four pillars of formation can offer us much insight as to specific areas of our life to examine and make resolutions that concern our whole person and will truly bring us closer to our end.

I will briefly explain each of the four pillars and then suggest several resolutions that may relate to each.

Human Formation

Human formation concerns the growth of a person in relation to others. It’s all about community!Some ideas for resolutions in this area include:

  • Commit yourself to getting to know one of your neighbors this year. Find out one way you can bless his or her life this year.
  • Join a Catholic men’s or women’s group. Women, look up Blessed Is She.
  • If you are a young Catholic family, invite other families in your parish to hang out. Talk about the hardships and joys of his season in life. Grow holy friendships among yourselves and your children.
  • Go to your parish events. Meet your fellow parishioners, and make an effort to call them by name when you see them at mass.
  • Get to know your local businesses, government, and municipal leaders. Think of one good way you can make your town a better place.
  • Join a community fitness class. Invite some friends to mass.

Spiritual Formation

Spiritual formation concerns growing specifically in prayer and contemplation. Some ideas for resolutions in this area include:

  • Committing to a weekly holy hour
  • Joining a weekly Lectio Divina group
  • Making time for a retreat this year
  • Praying the rosary as a family daily or weekly or monthly
  • Learn to pray the Liturgy of the Hours
  • Read the gospels every morning and reflect on them throughout your day
  • Pray the Examen twice a day
  • Say a Chaplet of Divine Mercy every day at 3pm
  • Pray the Angelus at 12
  • Let this year be the year you make a consecration to Jesus through Mary

Intellectual Formation

Intellectual formation for priests is to deepen their knowledge of the faith in their studies of theology and philosophy. I think it would be a reasonable jump to think that for lay people intellectual formation could also concern those things pertaining to our respective avocations.

Some ideas for resolutions in this area include:

  • Reading a book a month concerning Catholic theology–anything by Pope Benedict XVI, among countless others, would fit this bill
  • Joining a formal bible study, like Jeff Cavins or A Biblical Walk Through the Mass
  • Taking a course in something that you’re passionate about
  • Go to a conference for professional development in your field
  • Joining an Adult Faith Formation program for those who have already received the Sacraments

Pastoral Formation

Pastoral formation in our case is the formation of a person in their ability to act according to their faith and meet the needs of others. Some ideas for resolutions in this area can include:

  • Donating clothing and clothing to local shelters.
  • Volunteer at a local hospital to be with people in some of the most trying times of their life.
  • Give monetarily more than you did last year. Consider Catholic Charities.
  • Try a new ministry, like ministering to the homebound, those in mourning, or the imprisoned.
  • Volunteer to be an RCIA sponsor
  • Make cards and give them out at a local convalescent hospital.
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