Exercise is Hard
Like many of you, I don’t like working out, particularly jogging. Who likes setting his lungs on fire and drenching his clothes in sweat to burn off a sip of soda or a bite of cake? However, while I don’t like each individual workout, I do like how I start to feel over time. I feel stronger and have more energy. I also start to enjoy pushing myself — can I run one more house without taking a break? Can I do three more pushups? Can I plank for ten more seconds?
We put ourselves through so much inconvenience and discomfort for our physical health. But what about our spiritual health? It seems much more difficult to fast and abstain for the good of our souls during Lent. Maybe it’s because we can’t physically see our souls like we see our body in the mirror. But it so important that we focus on our spiritual health like our physical, mental, and emotional health. And Lent is the perfect time for that.
The Lenten Desert
Jesus went into the desert for 40 days knowing that he would be tempted by Satan. But he was determined to resist those temptations. He didn’t fear the temptations. He went headlong into them. Fasting and defeating the devil strengthened him for his public ministry and eventual Passion.
We enter into our own personal desert during Lent for many of the same reasons and benefits as Jesus. It is our time to strengthen ourselves spiritually through fasting and prayer. It is our challenge to resist temptation, whether that be committing sins or just not following through on our Lenten promises. We should take more of an athlete’s mindset during Lent — to really push ourselves a little harder each day. Because in the end, we not only celebrate the joy of Easter but become spiritually stronger to defeat temptation in the future.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, our God is a God of joy and happiness. His joy echoes in our hearts when we are determined to overcome sins in our lives, “There is so much joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.” (Lk 15:7) The Blessed Virgin Mary, all the angels, and saints are cheering us to victory. Even if we do not overcome all natural and physical evils in this life, God wants us to be truly joyful now and in heaven with Him by overcoming the moral evils that proceed from our free actions.Finding True Joy Through Overcoming Temptations (catholicexchange.com)
Going Soft from Watching Videos
As a concrete example, I gave up watching frivolous video clips. At first, it was hard because it was so ingrained into my daily routine. But over the last several days of Lent, I do feel a bit freer and more productive in the evening. Instead of watching clips, I’m reading and writing more. Time spent watching clips is now spent reading one of the many neglected Catholic books.
While watching videos seems innocent enough, it does start to erode your desire for spiritual things. It doesn’t even need to be sinful videos either. It’s the passivity of videos that weakens us. I came across this article that talks about the dangers of consuming so much video content.
If the way we’re using entertainment erodes our ability to reflect, reason, and savor truth, it erodes our ability to know and enjoy Jesus. “Blessed is the man . . . [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1–2). If we lose the ability to think, we lose the ability to meditate. And if we lose the ability to meditate, we lose our path to meaningful happiness. The life of the mind, and heart, is a pivotal battleground in the pursuit of real and abundant life.The Blissful and Trivial Life: How Entertainment Deprives a Soul | Desiring God
The World Needs Strong People
It’s easy to sit on the couch and binge-watch Netfix or Youtube. It’s easy to reach for that bowl of ice cream or bag of cookies. We probably have 101 justifications for why we can’t exercise. But we need to recall that it’s Lent and we’re called to do what is good and necessary, not what is easy. When we do that, we find the strength to resist sin. But we also find real comfort through Jesus.
The world is so upside down right now. Whenever I think we’ve reached an apex of craziness, the world has a way of squeezing out more. We need to squeeze out more spiritual strength. We can’t be weak in this life. Spiritual weakness will not only bring misery in this life but may also bring eternal misery in the next. That is why Lent cannot just be a regular forty days. We need to push ourselves so we come out strong. We need to push ourselves so we come out joyful. We need to push ourselves so we are counted as one of Jesus’ disciples.