3 PIllars of Lent
This is part of a 3 part series on the 3 Pillars of Lent. Read the parts on Fasting and Almsgiving for more ideas on how to make your faith Full Contact this Lent!
While it may seem sometimes that being a Catholic Christian is a passive, primarily mental activity, the reality is that being a follower of Christ is a full-time, full-contact sport.
As Father Sergius Halvorsen points out, St. Paul often uses sports imagery when speaking about what it means to be a true disciple of Christ.
He says that he does not run aimlessly, nor does he "box as one beating the air." Rather, he "pommels" his body and subdues it. (1 Cor 9:24-7)...[he] encourages us to "run with perseverance the race that is set before us" (Heb 12:1) because our goal is a heavenly prize.
St. Paul points out that athletes exercise self-control in all things in order to be victorious (1Cor 9:25). If athletic discipline was obvious in St. Paul’s day, then it should be even more obvious in our culture with its preoccupation with professional sports. The athlete cannot pigeonhole his or her athletic life. One cannot eat junk food and sit on the couch throughout the off-season and expect to make the team. Similarly, Christ challenges us to follow Him three hundred sixty five days a year, which means that we lead a life of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Cardio Training: Prayer
In the same way that cardio-vascular exercise strengthens our physical heart, prayer strengthens our spiritual hearts. To pray means that we take time every day to intentionally still our minds and focus on the person of Jesus. We listen to God speaking to us in the silence, or in His Word and we talk to him. Just like with cardio workouts, the more time we spend in prayer strenghtening our spiritual hearts, the easier it becomes to have longer sessions with greater intensity.
Prayer opens our hearts and minds to the love of God, and allows us to be filled with the grace which God abundantly pours out upon us.