Timeless inspiration for the new year

My wish is that the friendship of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, will accompany you each day of this new year. May friendship with Christ be our light and guide, helping us to be people of peace, of his peace.” Pope Benedict, General Audience, 30 December 2009

As 2022 drew to a close, we heard the sad news of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. As we look to the year ahead, Caroline Stanton, of CAFOD’s Theology team, reflects on New Year’s resolutions and three ways of deepening prayer in 2023.

2023. A new year. The fresh page of a new calendar. The annual opportunity to take stock, set some new goals and become the best version of yourself! I so often enter the new year full of optimism as I plan to read all the books, declutter the house, pray and exercise more regularly. Sadly, after a few weeks of struggling, by this point in January my resolutions are often quietly abandoned.  

Even so, there’s still something deeply appealing about the chance a new year offers to have a fresh start, perhaps not just for us individually but also for our world. In his message for World Day of Peace, celebrated each year on 1 January, Pope Francis, reflecting on the impact of the global pandemic, challenges us to do just that – to imagine new ways of living together in our common home. Today, he says, we are being asked: 

“What did we learn from the pandemic? What new paths should we follow to cast off the shackles of our old habits, to be better prepared, to dare new things? What signs of life and hope can we see, to help us move forward and try to make our world a better place?” 

Read the full message for the 56th World Day of Peace.

These are good questions to reflect on as we go through 2023. And, despite my track record, I remain hopeful, so I have made some resolutions.  I have found some words of the late Pope Benedict XVI helpful as I’ve thought about this. Welcoming the new year in 2009 he said: 

“My wish is that the friendship of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, will accompany you each day of this new year. May friendship with Christ be our light and guide, helping us to be people of peace, of his peace.”  

(Pope Benedict, General Audience, 30 December 2009)   

Instead of trying to do all the things, we can prioritise one truly important thing – deepening our friendship with Jesus and allowing this to guide us in the year ahead. Research suggests that for resolutions to last, they need to specific and achievable. So if, like me, you’d like to deepen your prayer life in 2023, here’s a few you might like to consider. 

Sign up for our weekly reflection and prayer emails 

Each Friday we send out an email reflection and prayer, based on the Sunday gospel reflections and written by our team of volunteers. The reflections, rooted in global justice, invite you to ponder what God is saying to you through the Sunday gospels and consider how you can put your faith into action. 

Join with others 

The Bible is full of stories of community; of people praying and sharing life together. Praying with others, whether in person or online, can be a great support in deepening our faith.   

You can join us every Thursday morning on Zoom as we pray the rosary for the care for creation and an end to world hunger. Or you might like to use our family prayer ideas at home if you have younger children. 

Find some quiet time 

Jesus tells us: ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’ (Matthew 11:28). Think about where you could find some time, even if not every day, to intentionally spend with God. You might like to draw inspiration from our prayer resources. 

Whether you choose to make a resolution or not, I hope 2023 will be full of every joy and blessing for you. 

You can read more about the Pope Emeritus’ important teachings on justice and peace here.

3 thoughts on “Timeless inspiration for the new year”

  1. Thank you for your dedication to this mission. I am delighted that by subscribing to your weekly reflections I’m getting so much more from CAFOD than I thought when I first ordered my charity Christmas card pack years ago. Thanks for the rays of sun you bring to my life.

  2. No real resolutions for me this year but I’m sitting in my lounge looking at a brilliant sunset and being thankful for the beautiful, fiery colours and being able to experience it

  3. I spend a lot of time in prayer lncluding 3 Rosaries a day
    I am 82 years of age so I do have time on my side

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