3 Spiritual New Year’s Resolutions Inspired by St. John the Apostle

Stained glass window of St. John the Evangelist

Above the altar of my hometown parish church, there is a beautiful stained-glass window depicting the Crucifixion. I couldn’t possibly count the number of times I’ve seen that window, but one day at Mass, as I knelt in my regular pew after Communion, my eyes noticed, as if for the first time, a humble figure standing just to the side of the Cross, not far from the Blessed Mother — a young man, holding a book, gazing up in sorrow and awe at his crucified Savior. It was Saint John, of course, the “beloved disciple;” apostle, evangelist, and friend of Jesus. What struck me was John’s closeness to Jesus, not only at the moment of his death, but throughout and after Our Lord’s earthly ministry. With this in mind, as the year draws to a close, I chose to reread John’s Gospel, paying special attention to the final chapters. 

Saint John’s feast day falls on December 27, during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, when most people are thinking of their intentions for the year to come. I’ve never had much luck with traditional New Year’s resolutions. I never seem to stick to personal and professional goals. Perhaps I’ve been taking the wrong approach. Christ told his disciples to “Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33). So, I’m setting a spiritual resolution for 2024: emulate Saint John by cultivating a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ in three ways.

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Remain close to Christ in the Eucharist

John lays special stress on the Eucharist in his Gospel, taking great care to record Jesus’ “Bread of Life Discourse” in the magnificent sixth chapter. It should come as no surprise then, that at the Last Supper, when Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Eucharist, John, the beloved disciple “was lying close to the breast of Jesus.” (John 13:23)

Although my schedule makes it impossible to attend daily, my parish does hold weekly Eucharistic Adoration every Wednesday. So, to remain close to Jesus in the Eucharist, I plan to make a weekly Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament in the new year. Even if your own parish does not offer Adoration or Benediction, you can still visit any church to pray before Our Lord in the Tabernacle whenever you wish! This is an especially fruitful time for growing close to Our Lord in the Eucharist because the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has proclaimed a national Eucharistic Revival. Parishes and dioceses across the U.S. are getting involved. Perhaps there’s a way you could help to organize Eucharistic revival events in your parish community?

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Remain close to Christ in his Passion

John records several moments when Jesus speaks figuratively about his redemptive Passion and death, including, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also.” (John 12:24-26) Of the Twelve, John alone remained close by Jesus’ side through his entire trial and crucifixion. As servants of Christ, our place is by his side in his Passion, in his redemptive work of transforming the world through self-giving, self-sacrificial love. 

One of my favorite prayers is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, a devotion that calls on us to meditate on Christ’s redemptive Passion. So I’m going to try and incorporate the Chaplet into my prayer routine for the new year. The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary are another method of contemplating the Passion and death of Jesus. It’s well to remember, too, that the sadnesses and challenges in our lives can be opportunities to unite our sufferings with the redemptive sufferings of Christ. Although, by the grace of God, I’m not currently experiencing any “big” sufferings, such as serious illness or poverty, I can still offer up small everyday sacrifices, like doing extra chores or forgoing my favorite foods, for the conversion of sinners or for the souls in Purgatory. No intentional sacrifice is too small for God to make use of.

LISTEN: Who is the ‘Beloved Disciple’?

Remain close to Christ in his Blessed Mother

Before Jesus gave up his life on Calvary, he entrusted the well-being of his Blessed Mother to his friend John, who stood beside her at the foot of the Cross: “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:26-27).

There are so many ways that Catholics can remain close to Christ in his Blessed Mother! Many people choose to say the Rosary, but while it is a powerful prayer, it’s not for everyone. Personally, I enjoy reading books about Mary or about Marian theology. Venerable Fulton Sheen’s “The World’s First Love” is one of my all-time favorites. If possible, you could even visit a Marian shrine, like I once did at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Island. I’ve decided that next year I will make the effort to visit that shrine again. At any time of the year, it’s always wise to entrust our prayer intentions to the Blessed Mother. 

Developing a deeper personal relationship with Jesus Christ is a mission that cannot be contained in resolutions devoted to a single year — it is a lifelong journey. But through the intercession of the Blessed Mother and Saint John, we can hope to remain close to our Divine Savior who is “the way, and the truth, and the life.” (cf. John 14:6)