Setting A New Year’s Resolution- Going Beyond The Diet

This year, I’m encouraging myself (and those around me) to go beyond the diet this year- what resolutions can we set to really improve ourselves where it matters the most? What is God calling you to do, who is is calling you to be, and what can you do to work towards that? Also, what resolutions can we set to serve others rather than ourselves?

doing the corporal works of mercy with kids- a new year's resolution

I spent some time in prayer last year discerning a new year’s resolution, and I knew just what it was I wanted to do. I resolved to do all of the corporal works of mercy with my kids in one year.

Corporal Works Of Mercy:

  • Feed the hungry
  • Give drink to the thirsty
  • Clothe the naked
  • Shelter the homeless
  • Comfort the prisoners
  • Visit the sick
  • Bury the dead

My goal was to do something more than just donating money to these causes- I wanted to find hands-on ways for my family to do these things for others. Armed with our book about the works of mercy to help get the kids involved, we set out to see what we could accomplish!

Some of these were easier to accomplish than others. I planned ahead by starting with these blessing bags for Christmas. Given that my kids are too small to volunteer with most soup kitchens, this was a really easy way for all of us to feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty. 

blessing bags- feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty with kids

Julian, age 6, Lydia, age 8, and my brother Morgan, age 13

Passing out these blessing bags was definitely a highlight of this year! My kids were so excited every time we had the opportunity to give one out. Because they had been involved with assembling the bags, it was really rewarding to them to give them out. In some cases, the kids actually are the ones that handed them over to the homeless. I will continue to make these every year- it’s really a great way to get kids involved, and 90% of the people we gave them to were extremely nice and thankful.

You could also donate food and drink to a food pantry if your kids are too young to volunteer.

Clothing the naked is pretty easily done- donate your outgrown clothes to the needy. I would also suggest reading this post about giving the poor something better than our worst- it’s a great read.

Visit the sick– this is one of the reasons that I loved this resolution so much! We did things this year that would have otherwise slipped through the cracks, and visiting a sick friend in a nursing home was one of them.

works of mercy- visit the sick

This was so great for the kids! You don’t have to know anyone to visit a nursing home. When I was little, we used to go caroling at a nursing home every year, and we would pass out stuffed animals to the elderly. They loved it!

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Bury the dead– a tough one to do with kids. When I was brainstorming this one, I thought we might go visit a grave or clean up an old cemetery sometime this year with my kids. However, when my friend Sarah Harkins died this year, we prayed for her and donated to her fund. (For anyone who didn’t know, she was the Clay Rosary Girl.)

clay rosary girl sarah harkins

Comfort the Prisoners– There is a ministry through a church here where you can bake cookies for the prisoners. People go into the jail, tell them about Jesus, and pass out the cookies. So each of my kids baked their own tray of cookies to donate to the cause. I also toured a jail, which was very eye-opening and something I would highly recommend. I told my kids all about how sad it was. If you tour a jail, I promise it will give you a heart for the imprisoned.

making cookies for prisoners

Sheltering the homeless is where I struggled the most this year. I can’t actually invite people off the street to come stay in our house. I had some ideas to try and volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, a local shelter, or even give tents to homeless. None of this ended up working out, so I will be making a donation somewhere quickly today. 😉

More Ideas for doing the Corporal Works Of Mercy:

  • Catholic relief services has a catalog where you can donate money to specific cases such as food, water, or shelter. Check it out here.
  • Look for local places to volunteer or donate online.
  • Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and just ask what you can do. For example, call your local jail or food pantry and ask how you can get involved.
  • Sponsor a child. (We go through Unbound, formerly the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, which was founded by Catholics.)
  • Become a foster parent.
  • Pray and ask God what he’s calling you to do.

This is easily the best New Year’s Resolution I’ve set in my life, and possibly the one one I’ve ever followed through with. What ideas do you have for New Year’s Resolutions this year?

Related Posts:

More Catholic Resources For January

You can find more Saint feast days and fun ways to living the liturgical year in January here.


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  1. My brother just got out of jail after spending a over a year there. He has also been essentially homeless for years,,,crashing with one “friend” or another until they get tired of it, sleeping in his car, and occasionally shelters. Definitely a unique perspective, to have someone you love in those places. When I was a kid, I remember thinking, when I saw a homeless person, “Where is their family? Why doesn’t anyone they know help them?” Now I know. Sometimes I manage to fit in several works of mercy just when my brother shows up.

  2. In the Baltimore Catechism it teaches that the corporal works of mercy are acts of love which come from the heart to help our neighbor in his bodily needs. It also shares examples of different ways we accomplish these works and may not even realize we are practicing these corporal works of mercy, such as to feed the hungry–when we bring food to a needy family or share candy or go to the grocery store for your mother or do the dishes or wait on company..these are all ways we practice to feed the hungry…also to give drink to the thirsty–to simply give dad or a friend a drink on a hot day or give the baby his bottle or help lift a boy to get a drink from the fountain….these are corporal works of mercy. I was amazed to learn that all these ways ARE in fact practicing the corporal works of mercy and it’s important our kids understand it, too. To shelter the homeless, it’s not only what we think it means, but it involves even these: helping to take care of the furnace of the home or the A/C; dusting the furniture; making the beds; cleaning the floor of the home…it is to help others obtain shelter or to preserve it–it all is an act of love that satisfies this corporal work of mercy. I read your article and it is wonderful, but i just was wondering it you understood it IS quite easy and simple to do ALL the corporal works of mercy (and we are and probably didn’t even realize it!) beyond what many people think it entails…we accomplish all of them right in our own homes within our own family and friends, and our children need to understand that as well. We study the Baltimore Catechism, and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy are covered in a beautiful way and I am so thankful to have a better, clearer understanding of them.

    • I think that’s true and really beautiful. I suppose I didn’t verbalize that I was really trying to focus on the “least of our brothers” thing, which I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. In the end, I wasn’t really sure that anyone in America is the least of our brothers, but you gotta work with where you are. 🙂 I really want my kids to understand the importance of helping those that are less fortunate than we are.

    • And actually, I did think a lot during the year that I do these things for my own kids all the time- lol.

    • Pia Rossi Davide says

      YES, this. Thanks for helping me see this clearly.

  3. Hey Lacy! I dont know if you have read any of Fr Micheal Gaitley’s books but he has one called “You Did It To Me” which is about the works of Mercy and how to live them everyday. You might get some good ideas from it to continue in your quest for works of Mercy!

    The book is the last in a parish based program calls Hearts Afire Parish Program beginning with 33 days to Morning Glory which is a book for Marian Consecration, then Consoling the Heart of Jesus, The One Thing is Three (about the Trinity) and then You Did It to Me (Works of Mercy). The idea is to go though each book with a group and then continue to meet to coordinate works or Mercy together.

    I just finished running the 33 Days consecration on Dec 12th Our Lady of Guadalupe and we plan to continue on with the next book in the Spring. Anyway long winded but thanks for the challenge to get out and show Mercy!!

    • Thanks for the recommendations! I just ordered the first one. Found it on Amazon for a little cheaper. 🙂

  4. PS Happy New Year and this is Katie from the Steubie Moms group long ago!!