I heard a priest say recently that he does three things every day: pray, celebrate Mass and exercise.
The first two are obvious, but why exercise?
He wants to keep his body and mind strong and healthy so he can vigorously serve his flock.
Exercise, when done moderately and consistently, can be a wonderful way to increase our physical and mental energy to be God’s hands and feet in the world. Since diocesan priests are serving their parish 24/7, good health and physical vigor is truly a blessing.
It’s funny that the word Moderation can sometimes feel counter-cultural.
A few years ago, I posted ‘Moderation and Consistency are the Keys to Fitness’ on the whiteboard at my gym.
One of our gym members strongly disagreed with this sentiment. He told me it sounded weak. His philosophy was to go all out all the time. Unfortunately, he had many former injuries from extreme exercise so maintaining the habit of moderate and consistent exercise proved to be challenging for him and he ended up quitting altogether.
Unfortunately, our go-go-go culture can make us feel that we must always do more and push harder.
There are circumstances where extreme physical preparation might be necessary, for example, in the military and in law enforcement where your job is to protect and save lives. However, the average person will benefit greatly from doing most activities with Moderation and Consistency.
The principles of Moderation and Consistency can guide our spiritual lives as well.
While we may desire to pray silently at home every day for an hour, that might not be compatible with how God is calling us to serve in our vocation. We might not start to pray at all until we have a full hour — but if you are like me, that might not happen very often! We can become discouraged and stop praying altogether, so setting realistic expectations is key.
At my weekly Holy Hour last week, I was distracted. I had a hard time praying, reading or even really being present to the Lord. So much was going on in my mind about family and work. I know that God sees and loves our desire to pray even when we do it imperfectly, so we have to keep trying.
Like the priest I mentioned who prays, celebrates Mass, and exercises daily, we can greatly benefit from maintaining healthy habits, in a spirit of Moderation and Consistency, to serve God and the people God places in our lives.