Ringing in the new year rekindles our hopes and dreams. It’s time to celebrate a fresh start, turning the page to begin a new chapter. We look forward to new opportunities and adventures. The deep desires of our heart float up to the surface, and we can’t help but wonder:
What if this is the year for ______________? What is right around the corner? What else is in store for me?
The dawn of a new year can also leave us feeling hesitant to hope. We worry about being let down… again. Perhaps we made resolutions in years past that fizzled after a month or two, and the expectations of ourselves fell flat. And again, we wonder:
Will this year be another disappointment? What if this new year is no better than the last? What if I fail again in making real change in my life?
Approach the New Year With Prayer
In order to sort through this array of emotions, we must approach the new year with prayer. Through prayer, we can bring our hopes, dreams, and fears about beginning anew to the Lord. And as we entrust it all to Him and listen to His response, we realize God’s plan of sheer goodness for us (see Catechism of the Catholic Church 1).
Through prayerful dialog, His plan will unfold and our hearts will increasingly open to His holy will for us.
What do you want to do in my life this year, Lord? What area of my life needs attention? Will You be my strength, Lord? Because I can’t begin anew without You.
As we pray about the new year, let us consider six themes:
- Start right where you are
- Reflect on the past
- Trust in the Lord
- Look forward with hope
- Make resolutions
- Don’t give up
Saint Quotes for the New Year
Moreover, let us contemplate what the Saints say about starting over in the new year. After all, their desire is to help us not only reach our new year’s goals but our final reward: eternity with God in Heaven.
On Beginning Anew
The Saints have much to say about the simple idea of beginning anew. They know that January is not the only time to start over. Rather, God’s mercies are new every morning (see Lamentations 3:22-23). So everyday of the year, we can begin again.
“The saints did not all begin well, but they all ended well.” // Saint John Vianney
“Begin now to be what you will be hereafter.” // Saint Jerome
“Always we begin again.” // Saint Benedict
“Everyday I say to myself, today I will begin.” // Saint Anthony of the Desert
“It is right that you should begin again every day. There is no better way to complete the spiritual life than to be ever beginning it over again.” // Saint Francis de Sales
“Begin now … Believe me, don’t wait until tomorrow to begin becoming a saint.” // Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Start Right Where You Are
In order to begin anew, we need to embrace where we are in this very moment of the brand new year. This is exactly how God wants us to come to Him in prayer.
“Trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.” // Saint Teresa of Avila
“Go to our Lord just as you are. Be natural in your meditation. He wants the thought and prayer of that heart as the genuine expression of its love for Him.” // Saint Peter Julian Eymard
“He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.” // Saint Gregory of Nissa
Reflect on the Past
Once we accept where we are in this present moment, it is good to reflect on the past before we move forward:
- How did I get here?
- What went well this year?
- What was disappointing?
"Do not let the past disturb you—just leave everything in the Sacred Heart, and begin again with joy.” // Saint Teresa of Calcutta
“Trust the past to the mercy of God, the present to His love, and the future to His providence.” // Saint Augustine
“It is only through shadows that one comes to know the light.” // Saint Catherine of Siena
“Do not look back to the past, nor forward to the future. Claim only the present, for it holds God’s will.” // Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne
Trust in the Lord
With a clean slate from the past and acceptance of where we are in this present moment, we can entrust any anxiety we have about the new year to the Lord.
“Jesus does not demand great actions from us but simply surrender and gratitude.” // Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
“Learn to live in God’s hands.” // Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
“We can only learn to know ourselves and do what we can, namely, surrender our will and fulfill God's will in us.” // Saint Teresa of Avila
“When you have nothing left but God, you have more than enough to start over again.” // Saint Teresa of Calcutta
Look Forward With Hope
And we also can fully embrace, with expectant hope, the surprises God has in store for us this coming year.
“Let us begin, brothers, to serve the Lord God, for up until now we have done little or nothing. He did not consider that he had already attained his goal, but tireless in pursuit of holy newness, he constantly hoped to begin again.” // Saint Francis of Assisi
“Whenever you begin any good work you should first of all make a most pressing appeal to Christ our Lord to bring it to perfection.” // Saint Benedict of Nursia
"Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly." //Saint Ignatius of Loyola
“To have courage for whatever comes in life, everything lies in that.” // Saint Teresa of Avila
Make Concrete Resolutions
Coming up with new year’s resolutions is easy. Honing in on just one or two can be hard to discern. So, we invite God into our plans, asking Him where He desires us to improve. If we long for healing, growth, and flourishing, we can be certain He wants that for us even more.
“You aspire to great things? Begin with little ones.” // Saint Augustine
“Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” // Saint Francis of Assisi
“When we once begin to form good resolutions, God gives us every opportunity of carrying them out.” // Saint John Chrysostom
“Without love, deeds even the most brilliant, count as nothing.” // Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
Don’t Give Up
Will we execute our new year’s resolutions perfectly over the next 365 days? Absolutely not! But that does not mean we should give up. Rather, beginning anew is an ongoing process, one that allows us to start fresh again and again.
“We stumble. We stutter. We rise. We are lifted.” // Saint Anthony of Padua
“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them—every day begin the task anew.” // Saint Francis de Sales
“Don’t despair over your shortcomings. Start over each day. You make spiritual progress by beginning again and again.” // Saint Francis de Sales
“When tempted, invoke your Angel. He is more eager to help you than you are to be helped! Ignore the devil and do not be afraid of him: He trembles and flees at the sight of your Guardian Angel.” // Saint John Bosco
“If you should fail, be humble, make a resolution to be submissive to God’s will and then get up, and carry on.” // Saint Pio of Pietrelcina
“The work is never finished, we have continually to begin again …” // Saint Francis de Sales
Ready to Begin Anew?
Whether we are excited or anxious, we are not alone as we step over the threshold of the new year. The Lord hopes we will invite Him along. And His saintly friends promise to intercede for us, as they share their wisdom on beginning anew.