Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Lifting for the Lord

I once heard of a woman with purple hair, who frequented a gym, and wore a tee-shirt that read, "Lifting for the Lord." When I heard the anecdote, some 10 or 15 years ago, I thought it was funny. Not so much anymore.

Over the last year or two I have been running again, going to the gym for the first time really - both irregularly, but with gradually increasing frequency. It's hard at first, but it feels good eventually, and I like it. Not only does it feel good, but it IS good to be in good physical condition because our body is part of who we are. I am not a soul riding around in a dingy old carcass. I am a human person - a hybrid of body and spirit. All of me is important to God, and I owe it to myself and to God to take care of all of me, to be the best me that I can be. This point isn't an excuse for selfishness - genuine priorities and duties are not to be neglected. Doing so makes it easier for me in very practical ways to be more available to others, to sacrifice for others. Being more able naturally makes me more willing. And of course, our will is at the heart of who we are as persons.

So the purple-haired woman that lifted for the Lord was onto something. And it strikes me that weightlifting is, like running, a good metaphor for the Christian life. While I was at the gym the other day, lifting a truly impressive load (don't laugh - 25 lbs in each hand is JUST the beginning!), a thought popped into my head that nearly killed me. Literally. I thought, "Say, being a Christian is like lifting weights. You don't grow unless you keep increasing the load, keep it difficult. And if you don't keep at it, you start slipping back from your previous results." Then I laughed because it struck me to be a fairly unlikely thought to have while struggling under the weights. It was while laughing aloud that I nearly dropped those massive weights on my chest. That was the part that might have killed me. Well, maybe not. Probably a lot of what we think will kill us won't actually, if we are just willing to suffer through it.

After lifting by myself for a long time, and staying at the same weight levels until the other day, it occurs to me that I'll grow better if I read a good book, and a good guide or at least workout partner. Those are two more ways that lifting is like living for the Lord. If you're serious, you'll want a Good Book and a good guide, or at least a couple workout partners.

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