More on”Spiritual Cross Training”

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.

Eucharistic Adoration – It’s not just for Easter anymore

The Gift of the Eucharist

My parish has a gift that I must admit, I never really appreciated until recently. This is how God opened my eyes.

Last month, a young, newly ordained priest was celebrating his first Mass at the parish. I did not know him at all but, he grew up in the parish and was a product of the school there. Therefore, the parish community was very excited for this big event.

So many priests from one parish

One reason for our excitement is that the parish has a reputation for producing vocations to the priesthood. Noting this remarkable characteristic of the parish, this young new priest shared that he is often asked what is it about St. Mark’s in Hyattsville, Maryland that helps so many men find Christ in the priesthood.

His answer was extraordinary. He dutifully cited the school, its teachers, the people of the parish and the many priests that helped him hear that call. However, he pointed out that many parishes have these things and no priestly vocations to show for it. What was the difference then?

“Come worship him”

St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church has an Eucharistic adoration chapel that is open most of the day. Eucharistic Adoration has been a tradition at the parish for many years and this new priest cited its availability as the MAIN source of his vocation.

This is truly the greatest gift God gave us – The real presence of Christ is the Eucharist. Since that testimony, I have found more time to spend in the presence of the Eucharist in our adoration chapel. In the peaceful presence of the Body of Christ, I have found my prayers more fruitful, my problems more conquerable and my faith deepened.

Thank you Father Charles Gallagher for your vocation to the priesthood and for leading at least one deacon closer to Christ in the Eucharist.