Who is your favorite sports figure? Think about that. Why do you like them? It’s probably because they have achieved a level of performance that exceeds their peers. To get to that professional level took a lot of devotion, practice and preparation! Years of hard work, perseverance, determination and a lot of mistakes along the way formed a foundation of principles that helped them exceed their amateur levels! Our spiritual life is no different! Great men and women and Saints of the Church have achieved levels of holiness most of us only passingly muse about. It’s tragic how in a society that is “performance based” we really don’t give a second thought about our own spiritual performance.
We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. ~ Hebrews 6:12
In society we are constantly preparing ourselves for important occasions like summertime vacations, job interviews, weekends out with friends, birthdays, graduations, reunions and even musical and sporting events! Our preparations may include new clothing, new haircuts, going on diets, working out, inviting friends, ordering special foods, organizing our calendars, and taking days off from work! We realize in certain occasions we want to do a little more than we usually do in our everyday life in order to prepare for something greater! These events in our daily lives are special occasions in the ordinary routine of life that re-focus and re-energize us so we can prepare and participate more fully in the events of life.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, ~ Hebrews 12:1
We all still suffer from the effects of sin in some way. Although our sins are forgiven we have to make extra effort with the graces God gives us to overcome our sinful shortcomings. Our spiritual journey and growth are not yet complete in this world. Much like an athlete preparing for competition, we train our bodies, minds and souls to overcome our human weaknesses and strive to become spiritual powerhouses! We increase our daily devotions, we rid ourselves of bad habits that separate us from God and focus more intently on improving those relationships in our families, churches and communities.
“Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.” ~ 1 Corinthians 9:26-27
How do we train ourselves to become spiritual powerhouses? By prayer, fasting and giving of our time and resources. These are the three principal ways we prepare and train ourselves. Prayer lifts our hearts and minds to God. Fasting subjects our bodies and passions to discipline. Giving away our time, money and resources prevents us from becoming too attached to earthly things! We can start anytime of year or day. Start now if you want! It is way too easy to put things off and procrastinate! That will not produce anything but a lukewarm spirit. That is one reason why the Catholic Church prescribes certain devotions, prayers and seasons throughout the year. It gives us ample opportunities to start again! It gives us opportunities to become saints! With God we always have that opportunity to start again until our very last breath. Then it will be too late. If you had an opportunity to grow closer to God and show your appreciation and love in tangible ways would you not do that? Yes?
“Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.” ~ 1 Corinthians 9:25
There are some Christians that may object to Lent and using devotions and good deeds or “works” that we Catholics do on a daily basis. They say we focus more on “works” than a life of Grace or that we are “rigid” and “legalistic”. This can’t be further from the truth! It is exactly because of Grace, that now “works” in us, that produces hearts that desire to please God and we should want that in everything we do. The Grace of God moves us to Love Him and one another. God fills us with Grace because he loves us and we return to him the fruit of that love in the things we do in our good deeds or “works”. We are not “working for salvation” but “working out our salvation” [Phil.2:12] wanting to do nothing but please him “in fear and trembling” of doing anything that will separate us from him. Someone once asked the Apostle James about this and his reply is point, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” [James2:18]
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. ~ Hebrews 12:11
The season of Lent is an opportunity to refocus our attention on God and our spiritual life. It’s easy to grow soft and out of shape neglecting our physical and spiritual selves. We do it too often! If you’re not Catholic or don’t practice lent that’s OK. The important thing is the desire to know and love God and allow his Grace to move you. Lent is a time we can utilize as “training camp” to become a “Spiritual Powerhouse” so, let’s get going, “No Pain, No Gain”!