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7 Ways to Conquer the New Year: Advice from the Saints

What do you hope to conquer in the New Year? A bad habit that’s costing you money? An excessive attachment that’s wasting your time? A pattern of behavior that’s stealing your joy? A fear that’s holding you back?

The word ‘conquer’ comes from the Latin verb quaerere, which means ‘to seek’ (it’s also the origin of the English word ‘quest’). To a Christian, a conquering spirit, then, is a spirit that is constantly seeking God’s will, and striving to live it. Here are seven ways to seek God and strive to make progress towards a better you in the New Year.

  1. Don’t Just Talk About It

 “Remember that the Christian life is one of action; not of speech and daydreams. Let there be few words and many deeds, and let them be done well.” – St. Vincent Pallotti

Have you spent too much time complaining about what you want to change about yourself, your habits, your attachments, or your life? Cardinal Sarah warns against too much “chatter” and not enough action: “Carried away toward the exterior by his need to say everything, the chatterer cannot help being far from God, superficial, and incapable of any profound activity.” Resolve today to stop complaining about the change you’d like to see, and strive, instead, towards transformation.

2. Don’t Just Think About It

 “Love must not be wrought in our imagination but must be proved by works.” – St. Teresa of Avila

 The humble St. Teresa of Avila scolds herself before God by lamenting: “Everything with me adds up to nothing more than a bunch of wishes and words about how much I should be doing for You.” Now’s the time to stop thinking about what you should be doing, and make a firm resolution to truly do it. Write it down.

 3. Don’t Just Stand There

 “It is possible to lose our souls by doing nothing.” – Fulton J. Sheen

“Perfection is not acquired by keeping one’s arms folded, but by striving assiduously to overcome one’s self,” says St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. A concrete resolution includes not only what you will do, but how, and especially when. Include these details in your resolution to change. 

4. Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

 “The Lord told me to get started and simply do the best I could.” – St. Teresa of Avila

“We may not be a saint, but it would be good to think of what we could be if only we would try,” continues St. Teresa of Avila. Make your resolution simple and attainable. You can always increase the challenge if later it feels too easy.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

 “If, then, you sometimes fall, do not lose heart, or cease striving to make progress.” – St. Teresa of Avila

“We must not believe the Evil One when he tells us that there is nothing we can do in the face of violence, injustice, and sin,” Pope Francis encourages. Be prepared for failure, but don’t let it derail your day, week, month, or even year. If you fall, pick yourself up, and immediately (not tomorrow, not next Monday) begin again.

6. Don’t Waste Any More Time

“Hurry and serve God!” – St. Teresa of Avila

St. Benedict admonishes us to not waste our time: “While there is still time, while we are in this body and have time to accomplish all these things by the light of life, we must run and do now what will profit us forever.” Don’t wait for the perfect time to start to change. The best time to begin is right now.

And most importantly…

 7. Don’t Do It Alone

 “All we can do is our part…. we do whatever lies in our power and leave the rest to Him.” – St. Teresa of Avila

“There is no genuine action or major decision except in the silence of prayer that precedes it,” says Cardinal Sarah. Include your desire for transformation in your daily prayer, and pray continuously for a resolute will and, most importantly, the grace of God’s help.

Written by
Holly Gustafson

Holly lives with her husband, James, and their five children in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. She received her Masters in Linguistics at the University of Manitoba and now pursues her love of language through art, writing, public speaking, and unsolicited grammatical advice. Her favorite show is always the one she’s currently watching, and her favorite saint is always the one she’s currently reading. The best advice she ever received was from her spiritual friend, St. Faustina, who told her that when in doubt, “Always ask Love. It advises best.”

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1 comment
  • Holly

    I just came across your article, “Seven Ways to Conquer the New Year”.
    What an absolute joy to read. I can tell I like your style especially after reading your bio at the end. It described my life to the tee but the only difference is I have four children probably older than yours. I just turned 60 January 2 and couldn’t be happier .
    I look forward to reading more of your work

    Jeanette Maher
    Clarkston ,MI

Written by Holly Gustafson