We all hope our bonds of love and devotion will hold us together no matter what the New Year brings.
I am big on family traditions. Not only do they draw us together, but they are often grounded in stories and rituals that can stretch back for years on end. My family’s New Year’s tradition had a much shorter life span. It began by happenstance. While out for pizza on New Year’s Eve Ron and I had to come up with some way to distract our two squirming children from the lengthy time it took to receive our meal. One of us began a discussion about what might happen in the year ahead. We began jotting a list of hopes for a new year on a paper placemat. The discussion became so engrossing, we soon forgot about our dinner order. I tucked the placemat in my journal and pulled it out the following New Year’s Eve. We laughed at some of our entries and marveled at those that did, indeed, come about. Before long we set about making a new New Year’s list. And so, a tradition was born.
By the time our children reached middle school, coming up with a wish list for the upcoming year had grown thin. Nevertheless, I believe it was a worthy practice. Our hopes often included something fun we would do together – a trip to Disneyland or the acquisition of a pet (usually injected by our daughter). Sometimes it was for a way out of something – a deadening job or a move from a cramped environment to a more spacious one. There were dreams of achievement as our children looked towards advancing to a new grade level, as well as wishes for the well-being of our loved ones. In the end, every New Year’s list was about the same thing – the desire to grow and stay close as a family.
Hope builds on experience and a deep-down knowledge that life unfolds, that blessings emerge, and that all will be well in the grand scheme of things.
Engage your family, class, or community in a discussion about their expectations for the New Year. Challenge them to expand their hopes beyond wishful thinking in order to ground each one in the grace and love of God!
We can ask God’s blessing on a new year and pray together as it begins. We can consider where we want to take our religious education programs in the New Year and incorporate new ideas and projects. We can take time to make our own spiritual lives and service to others a renewed priority.
January is, for some, a dark and cold time of year. The start of a new year and the quiet of winter, however, is a lovely time for contemplation and a replenishment of the soul. Download January Psalm Reflection Cards and use them in your home, school, or parish to deepen your awareness of God’s presence at this time of year.
Start the new year with Scripture. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me… because he has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted… to bind up the brokenhearted… to announce a year of favor from the Lord” (Isaiah 61:1-2). Share a New Year of Favor Reflection with suggestions for reflection inspired by the passage from Isaiah.
Begin the new year with hope, grounded in the grace of God! Take inspiration from Kathy Hendricks and her family tradition. Download her Hope for a New Year Prayer Card and share it with the families in your religious education program.
We have compiled a few Sadlier resources that will help you prepare to tackle the joys and challenges of religious education in 2020 head on! In the New Year's Kit, you will find the following helpful resources, designed especially:
For Primary Students
Help students resolve to be better people in the near year with A New Year’s Resolution Mini-Lesson, written by a catechist. After learning about resolutions, children will consider and depict ways that they can be kind to self, peers, family, and community. As an extension, a bulletin board of resolutions can be created to help achieve kindness goals!
For Intermediate and Junior High Students
Help students ask God’s blessing on 2019 with the New Year’s Blessing Prayer Service. The prayer service combines Scripture, reflection, and writing with prayer and was written by a high school teacher.
For Parish Catechetical Leaders and Catechists
A new calendar year is a good time to consider the goals of our Religious Education programs in the coming year. The Religious Education Resolutions eBook contains five suggestions for resolutions to help build up your program and the Kingdom of God in the New Year and was written by a parish catechetical leader.
Within our New Year's Kit, Catholic administrators, catechists, and parents will find resources to help prepare for and celebrate the new calendar year. In 2020, we resolve to continue to bring you timely resources to support your ministry and your catechetical programs! Happy New Year from the Sadlier Religion Blog!