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More on”Spiritual Cross Training”

July 19, 2010

Getting into Spiritual Shape

About two months ago, I did a blog entry on “spiritual cross training.” I made an analogy between my goal of training for a 5K and training for spiritual fulfillment. I also mentioned that the friend I was training with rarely went to church and when I invited him to a Mass, he went once and commented that it did nothing for him. At that time, I told him, “Neither of us had run a yard in 10 years. What if we tried to run 3 miles in 24 minutes, failed miserably and then concluded ‘running does nothing for me?’” Really, if I haven’t run in years, how can I expect to be able to benefit from the sport in the first workout? Can I run around my neighborhood for five minutes and get on a scale and lament – “I haven’t lost any weight yet!”? I analogized that, “the practice of our faith is a spiritual workout. If you only go to church on Easter and Christmas, how could you possibly expect to be in good spiritual shape? If you don’t make prayer a habit, how can you expect to benefit from the exercise?”

3.1 miles in 36 minutes

Well, yesterday was the race for which we had been training and I am proud of this rather unflattering picture of me approaching the finish line. I am proud because four months ago, I was really out of shape. I was proud that my friend and I stuck to our training. But, I was most proud because one week prior, I had strained my back severely (I am not the twenty-something-blogger named Laura!). My physician said I would be in pain but running wouldn’t exasperate the injury. I was determined to do this race. My friend knew I was in pain as the race started but keep encouraging me to run through the pain.

So that his affliction may glorify God – John 9:1-41

We finished the race – I trailed him by a few minutes and we felt euphoric having finished with respectable times. Since the race was on a Saturday I asked him, “So, what are you doing tomorrow?” hoping the word “church” was somewhere in his answer. Glory to God, he said he was going to Mass adding, “You did not let a lower back strain get in your way, I shouldn’t let a boring homily get in mine.”

Staying motivated

Training for and running in a road race is not always fun. But the reward of crossing the finish line eclipses all of the pain and setbacks. The true reward comes in overcoming all of the obstacles that get in the way, including a lower back strain. Frankly, attending Mass regularly can have its setbacks as well, such as a boring homily or two. But, if you can see past the occasional disappointment, the reward that awaits, namely the worship of God in the form of the Eucharist, certainly eclipses all pain, suffering and sin.

Staying committed

We are now committed enough to running that we have already entered in a race scheduled for September. Next time, our goal is not to simply finish but to improve our time. Let’s pray that my friend finds that same commitment to God‘s command to keep holy the Sabbath. Also pray that he and others who have fallen away from the Church not only attend Mass regularly but that they integrate Christian spirituality into their entire lives, despite an occasional disappointment.

Comments (3)

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  1. Vijaya says:

    Great post. As in everything with life, practice is what makes perfect …

  2. Peter Wolczuk says:

    What I see here is “the process” and committment which are fairly new to me and which Deacon Turner has encouraged with his testimony. Many people have commented that I seem intelligent and wonder why I don’t have the esteemed carreer and the good income. The answer which appears to keep cropping up the most is committment, such as 4 years to earn a bachelor degree in a science. A commitment that I avoided. Such as a commitment that I observe someone else make to get in shape for a 5K run. The only commitments I made to physical fitness were a job which involved heavy labour or; the time I parked my motor vehicle for 4 months and relied on a bicycle for transportation. The second may seem pretty good until one considers the part where those 4 months were the same 4 months when my licence to drive was suspended due to a drinking and driving charge. When I turned 50 I finally started making commitments and following through and, success invoved accepting “the process.” I find the spiritual cross training anology especially appropriate because my efforts were like hearing that an hour a day spent jogging for 2 weeks would improve my fitness and deciding to run for 14 hours non-stop. When this didn’t work I would give up. The spiritual commitment began after a year and a half of accepting a process and letting God guide me through the gradual growth stages (Step Three; which is done after One and Two have prepared me; accepting that God’s will would succeed where mine had failed.) Over 6 years ago I decided to join a congregation and visited many churches – not the old rationalization that I was non-denominational which was only an excuse for lack of commitment but, rather to make a decision. Not the old maybe this coming Sunday or another Sunday a month later tentative resolution; a decision. When I appeared at one of the churches I’d checked out while deciding that this was day one of my membership the sermon of the day was the “Return of the Prodigal Son.” God’s ways are indeed mysterious yet they are always awesome. When I wanted to become babtized the priest insisted that I check if I’d ever been baptized. He wouldn’t accept half hearted efforts either. I had to write inquiries to church officials who only had the haphazard records of the northern town where I was born during a period of confused growth during a logging boom. Then he insisted I take a thorough catechism which led me to accept and love the concept of the Mysteries. They expose all the overly tangeable and superficial appeals which are used to endorse the growing interest in idolatry and show how inadequate that wider, easier way is. All this taught me more about commitments and made the actual baptism which he finally performed so much more fulfilling. Especially when I see imperfections in fellow church members and remind myself that I we are not perfect and, as a result, decline to judge (imperfectly.)
    I will take this opportunity to adress things I’ve previously stated which may have appeared to be a criticism of theologians as an elite. If anyone saw that in my comments it may well be due to poor expression on my part. I do admire those who have made to a long period of study and to those who have worked through the centuries to create the body of knowledge which helps to define our faith. In short, their commitment. However, I don’t believe that God’s finished teacing us and He may not chose who we expect to be His mesenger.
    In concluding I thank Deacon Turner for his inspiration and encouragement, not only to his running mate, but to all who can benefit. Especially about his decision to be responsable by consultating his doctor about continuing after the back injury.

  3. Peter Wolczuk says:

    An afterthought with a bit of a play on words. Would a course in the Passion of Christ be “Cross Training?”