Keeping spiritually fit
At the Summer Olympics Games in London, chiseled and crafted athletes are captivating the world's attention as they put their skills on display, and each country cheers on its beloved homelands.
In the Greek world, athletics was an important dimension of life. And St. Paul, who traveled and preached in Greece, must have had a great affinity and identification with athletes since so many of his letters compare living the Christian life with being an athlete.
As we view the Olympic Games let us reflect not just on being fit for the rigors of stellar physical performance, but do an inventory of our own spiritual health to see how fit we are to win the greatest prize, Jesus Christ:
1. Pray every day: St. John Vianney once said, "The less I pray, the less I want to pray. The more I pray, the more I want to pray." Do we make an appointment with God each day to pray? Time dedicated to God, of peace, calmness and quiet, ensures that we will grow closer to God day by day.
2. Read the Bible every day: When God's word speaks to us, we are changed and challenged to be more contemplative and more linked to him. In so doing, we communicate God's presence to others.
3. Examine your conscience every day: Greek philosopher Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." Today we seem to have lost the art of self-examination. Seriously examining our conscience is vital to being spiritually healthy and alive.
4. Fight the battle for the mind every day: Hold on to positive godly thoughts or be overwhelmed by our own negative thoughts. We can't afford the luxury of dwelling on fear, hatred, revenge and violence, but must cultivate forgiveness, hopefulness, peace and love.
5. Repent every day: We must turn to God as beggars. By a daily act of contrition or repentance, we are drawn closer to God
6. Grow in our Eucharistic adoration: Every Wednesday at St. Joseph Parish we have all-day Eucharistic adoration to remind our people not to lose sight of the gift of God. I am humbly amazed to see how many come to adore the Lord.
7. Make time for spiritual reading: By reflecting on such spiritual masterpieces as "The Confessions" of St. Augustine, the "Story of a Soul" by St. Therese of Lisieux or the "Spiritual Exercises" of St. Ignatius of Loyola, we find strength and direction for our Christian lives from great spiritual companions.
8. Love your neighbor and your enemy: Love challenges us to take the high road and go the extra mile by being forgiving, tolerant and ready to witness to the Gospel.
9. Cultivate the virtue of hope: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about the hope of eternal life and the promise of God's love
10. Be joyful and happy: Believers of Jesus Christ should be the happiest people on earth. This joyfulness, borne of the Holy Spirit, never makes us shallow, superficial or facile but wells within us with infectious joy and happiness.
Father Jones is pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Coraopolis.