editor of 4Marks Magazine asked me to write my January column on the topic of
“New Year’s Resolutions for Single Catholics,” I almost cringed as I thought of
all the resolutions I have made in years past, only to be broken before the
Christmas tree lights were back up in the attic.
Like many of you, I start each January with the best of intentions and a wish list of
self improvements: Read the entire Bible this year, eat fewer carbs, exercise
more, keep in better touch with friends, learn to crochet and play the guitar,
etc., etc., etc. I don’t feel qualified or comfortable recommending that you add
any resolutions to your January list that I am not putting on my own, so these suggestions
are just some snapshots of commitments and goals that have made a difference in
my life. I hope that in the Forums and Comments sections of 4Marks you will
share your ideas, stories and perspective on what has made the most impact on
your life as well, so that we can learn and grow from each other.
1. Face Your Financial Fears
circled Monday, December 10, 2007 on my calendar as the date I officially
became debt-free. It was the day I received the title to my car in the mail. If
there was one thing I learned in 2007 that made a life-changing impact on my
life, it was learning to face my fears about money and get in financial shape.
I’ve always known that managing money wisely was important, and that I needed to be careful when it came to debt. For me, my poor financial decisions were not racking up
exorbitant credit card bills or taking out loans, but instead it was the bad
habit of spending what I made, instead of developing an aggressive savings plan,
and my refusal to live on a budget.
I had debilitating fear when it came to managing my money: fear of being overwhelmed, fear of not understanding the big words and complicated language of some financial
“experts”, fear of making a bad decision, fear of having to live a more
disciplined life, fear of failure…and the list could go on. In a nutshell,
for several years I let my fear of money (or, what I now know was my lack of
knowledge about my money) paralyze me from doing anything. I wasn’t in serious debt, but my brain absolutely rebelled at the idea of balancing the check book, or (heaven forbid!) putting myself on a budget.
If I learned one important lesson this past year, it was that money matters. Whether you are single, in a dating relationship, or married, your financial decisions, foolish or wise, will affect your life and your relationships. Money can be a source of peace and
stability, or an opportunity for headaches, squabbles and disagreements.
While this certainly will not be the answer to everyone’s financial fears, for me and my
situation, Dave Ramsey saved my financial life. Dave is an author, speaker, and
financial expert who has written several New York Times best-sellers including The
Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. Dave is the most
uncomplicated, down-to-earth, and hilariously funny motivational speaker and
writer that I have come across in years. I listened to the Audio Book of Total Money Makeover, and attended Dave Ramsey’s seminar when he came to South
Carolina this past summer, and these two resources gave me the courage and motivation to get myself on track when it came to my money. Dave Ramsey’s plan takes you through seven “baby steps” out of debt and into financial peace and freedom. He doesn’t bog you down with complicated financial terms; instead he gives you real, achievable goals and the tools and motivation to achieve success.
If, like me, you feel that fear is keeping you from taking control of your finances,
make 2008 the year when you face your financial fears and begin to take those
baby steps in the direction of financial peace. Dave Ramsey was the resource
that aided me, but there are also many others that can help you get on track. It will make a big difference in your life as a single person, but more importantly, it will give you the discipline and
right attitude about money that will greatly aid you in your relationships and,
if it is God’s will, in your future marriage.
2. Reach Your Exercise and Lifestyle
Goals with Accountability
My guess is
that exercise and either dieting or better eating habits are on your list (or
at least on your mind) as a resolution for the New Year. This is the area where
Americans usually fail miserably in the attempt to achieve over ambitious new goals.
According to author and motivational speaker Dale Berry, “the majority of your
New Year's resolutions become New Year's delusions by the end of February. Less
than 30% of New Years Resolutions ever achieve success.”
question I have been asking myself is, what can I do to set realistic goals in
this area and achieve long term success? I am trying two new things in the New
Year that I am hoping will work better than sticking a Post-It Note of
resolutions on my refrigerator door. I have two friends who are going to hold
me accountable to my exercise goals, and I will do the same for them. I belong
to a women-only gym, and one of my coworkers is signing up at the same gym in
the New Year. She and I plan to go together after work, so that we can make
sure each other shows up each night. Another friend and I have set up a Google
Calendar to track our workout progress. We will enter our daily exercise
routine and track our own progress, and also check up on the other person to
make sure we are both staying committed to our personal goals. Hopefully these
two forms of accountability will help me stay committed to my exercise routine
in the New Year.
3. Try Something New and Out of Your
are single and unattached, it’s easy to battle the feeling that your life lacks
a certain meaning or purpose. As I’ve talked about many times before, one way
to combat a sense of loneliness, isolation, or the feeling of being unneeded is
to reach out to others in service and outreach opportunities. No matter where
you live on Planet Earth, every town and community has needs and opportunities
for people to serve. This year, my challenge to you and myself is to take on
some form of volunteer work or service project that challenges you and brings
you out of your comfort zone or normal world of activities.
One of my
friends has decided to volunteer once a month at a homeless shelter. Another
friend is joining a first responders emergency relief team. I’ve decided to
sign up for sidewalk counseling outside the abortion clinic in my home town. While
I have been praying and protesting outside of abortion mills since I was
practically old enough to walk and talk, I have never done any sidewalk
counseling. After participating in the 2007 national campaign 40 Days for Life
and witnessing so many babies saved and mothers’ lives changed because someone
was there to talk with them on the way into the clinic, I decided it was time
for me to give it a try.
begin to tell you how nervous (scared out of my mind is more accurate) I feel
about sidewalk counseling. Thoughts of what
if I say the wrong thing? and what if
I make them mad and increase their resolve to go through with the abortion?
run through my head, but I know that God will use even my feeble efforts to
bring about good.
there are many ideas you can come up with for challenging yourself to get
involved in service, outreach and volunteer work. You as the giver will be
4. Attend a Catholic Event, Retreat
or Conference in 2008
always encouraging, motivating, and often life-changing to gather with other
Catholics for a conference, retreat, or event of some variety. I encourage you
to put at least one such event on your calendar for 2008. Visit 4Marks Events to browse through events in your geographic area. Also, think about making plans to attend an event that might
require a bit of travel, such as the annual March for Life in Washington
D.C. or San Francisco, a Catholic Match regional get-together, or World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia.
5. Become a More Active Member of 4Marks
and Catholic Match
been blessed to be a part of 4Marks and Catholic Match for the past several
years, I must admit that until recently I rarely (if ever) participated in the
community aspects of the websites, such as the 4Marks Forums
and Folio. One day I started reading through
some of the Forum “hot topics” and couldn’t believe how many deep and
interesting discussions were going on amongst members, with topics including
everything from faith to food and Frisbee tournaments. The Forums are a great
place to learn more about your fellow 4Marks and Catholic Match members,
discovering what others think about a wide range of topics, and sharing ideas,
encouragement, and practical support with each other. I’ve noticed that although
the Forums are very active, it is a small percentage of Catholic Match members
who keep the discussions going. This New Year, I hope we can all venture into
the 4Marks Forums a little bit more and get to know each other better. It’s
time to let your ideas and opinions be heard!
4Marks’ new Folio feature is a great place to
develop new friendships and keep in touch with old ones. If you are a Facebook
junkie, you will love 4Marks Folio, which is similar, and yet doesn’t have the
ads and “junk” that you frequently see on Facebook these days.
6. Pray a Novena
A novena is
a Catholic devotional practice that consists of praying to a particular saint
for a specific intention and asking for special graces, for a period of nine
consecutive days. I know that many single Catholics, including myself, have
found great consolation and peace through praying novenas. You can search
Google or EWTN.com for novena prayers to your patron or favorite saint. Here
are a couple of my favorites:
Rosary Novena consists of a series of six consecutive nine-day novenas. Three
novenas are first said asking Mary for your petition, and this is followed by
three novenas said in thanksgiving for Mary hearing and answering your request.
learned of the 54-Day Rosary Novena when a couple I knew from the Midwest discerned their courtship by praying the novena. They had been friends and partners in apostolic work for years, but it wasn’t
until they prayed this novena that their hearts awoke to the feelings they had
for each other. After a successful answer to prayer, the couple then invited
single Catholics from all over the country to join them in praying for godly
spouses for all who prayed this novena. Success stories of the Blessed Mother’s
favor abound for those who have reverently prayed this novena.
New Year, honor Mary by praying the 54-Day Rosary Novena for your special
intention of finding a spouse. [Note: The 54-Day Rosary Novena is available in
booklet form under the title Rosary
Novenas to Our Lady, and is available here.]
the Archangel is loved and venerated under the
patronage of happy meetings and courtship. My favorite St. Raphael Novena is
for the special intention of finding a godly spouse. You can find this novena
online, or in booklet form here :
7. Strengthen the Best Friendship
You Will Ever Have
year Pope Benedict XVI wrote a new book entitled Jesus, the Apostles, and the Early
Church. It is truly a
life-changing masterpiece (highly recommended for your New Year’s reading
list!). One of my favorite passages is where the Holy Father talks about each
Christian in our role as a disciple of Jesus Christ, and the fact that we are
not only called to commune with God as our Lord and King, but also as our friend. This time of year, it’s easy to think
of Jesus as our Savior, Messiah, and King. However, do you also come to him as
your closest friend and confidant? Pope Benedict writes:
achieve this, it is not enough to follow him and to listen to him outwardly: it
is also necessary to live with him and
like him. This is only possible in the context of a relationship of deep familiarity, imbued with the warmth of total trust. This is what happens
between friends; for this reason Jesus said one day: “Greater love has no man
than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends….” (John 15:13)
As we begin
a New Year, let’s each think of ways in which we can deepen our friendship with
the Lord Jesus Christ. This will look different for each of our lives: for some
of us, we need to do a better job of communicating with Christ (prayer,
adoration). For others, we need to work on spending more time with him (perhaps
attending daily mass when we can). For many, as Pope Benedict mentions, we need
to deepen our knowledge and familiarity of him, as with reading the Scriptures.
8. Pray for Your Future Spouse
just a very simple reminder, but if you feel called to the vocation of
marriage, remember to say a brief prayer each day for the specific intentions
of your future spouse. Perhaps you could pray for his or her safety,
protection, wisdom, grace, growth in virtue, career, family, and that God would
lead the two of you to each other in His perfect time.
A.D. 2008, Here We Come!
I wish you
all a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year, filled with God’s blessings!
Stephanie Wood is the coordinator of NextWave Faithful, a young adult division of
Family Life Center International
that seeks to motivate, equip, and encourage young adults during
their “transition years” to live faithful lives for Jesus Christ and
His Church. She is the host of “NextWave Live” on the EWTN Global
Catholic Radio Network, and is a frequent speaker and writer on topics
relating to Catholicism and young adult life. Stephanie can be reached
This article can be reprinted by including the following credit:
This article is reprinted with written permission of 4marks
Magazine and is part of the 4marks.com network which offers a variety
of online services to Catholics, including our online Daily Catechism
program, Catholic Trivia, Temperament Test and single Catholic service.
To learn more about any of our services or how 4marks is helping
Catholics connect online in order to deepen their faith offline visit
 Note of caution: Dave Ramsey does
speak about Christian and spiritual principles which may not be compatible
with the Catholic Faith, so please discern accordingly.
 Dale Barry, “New Years Resolution
Results.” Selfhelp Magazine. January
 Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus, the Apostles, and the Early Church.
Ignatius Press, 2007, p. 69.