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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Maybe we need a P40X

I love my co-workers.   They are good people.  Two of them, in particular, are well disciplined.  They go to the gym on a regular basis, follow a healthy diet and are quite fit.  They put me and my six-can-a-day Dr. Pepper habit to shame.

I admire their grit and determination to keep themselves in shape.  One of them goes to the gym in the pre-dawn hours while the other goes after work.   They are dedicated.

A seminarian friend of mine who is studying way up in the frozen tundra, near LeBron James' old stomping ground, wrote that he was excited about embarking on the P90X workout, the latest fitness craze.   I do not know how he is progressing.

I wonder, though, how we can get that same determination, dedication and zeal and apply it to our souls.  In about half an hour, the bell will toll midnight and we will begin Ash Wednesday.  We will be entering one of the most solemn and holiest times of the liturgical year.  The Church calls us to pray, to fast and to give alms.   She calls us to conversion and repentence.

I suppose that Lent is our spiritual P40X.  I substituted 40 for 90 because of the Lenten season.   Just like my friends who are slavishly devoted to the gym and make the sacrifices for the sake of their health, perhaps we should consider taking the same approach for our souls.  My best friend often preaches about how we sometimes tend to not see the reality of our souls and, in turn, the realities of heaven.  We focus on what we can see, hear, smell, taste and touch.  We focus on what we see staring right back at us in the mirror.  Not that wanting to be physically healthy is a bad thing; but, what about our spiritual health?

Jesus gives us the example of the first spiritual workout, so to speak, having spent 40 days in the desert, fasting and praying, preparing Himself for his public ministry.  The Church, during this holy season of Lent, follows the example of her Divine Spouse.  While we do not go into a physical desert (although one can certainly make the case that the South Texas hinterland makes one feel as though they are in such a place), we enter into a period of withdrawl from within.  We try to purge our desires for self-gratification through fasting (whether it's fasting from food, drink or some other pleasure).  We make an effort at devoting more time to prayer (whether it's going to daily Mass, spending time in Adoration or reciting the Rosary).   We practice some sort of charitable act, whether it's giving alms to the poor or sharing of ourselves with our brethren. 

These sacrifices and spiritual exercises help strengthen our resolve to conform ourselves more closely to Christ.   They go beyond what a physical workout would do for the human body.  They help us burn away the fat of sin that hinders us from a closer union to Christ.

Maybe during this Lent, we could all do some sort of a P40X regimen for the soul. 

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