Today was my third annual Bike to Work Day celebration. On this day, across the country, many of us brave the city traffic (if we haven’t been already) and head over to pit stops around town to enjoy food, drink, and swap stories with fellow cyclists. It’s good to have cyclists of all levels and interests celebrating Bike to Work Day and National Bike Month (this month). Oddly enough, I never have to work on Bike to Work Day, but oh well!
As a fitness professional, I see people all the time who are just getting back to physical activity after life events such as inactivity, birth of a child, job change, etc. What all of these people have in common is that they feel one of two things: fear of failure because they’re out of shape or the tendency to go too hard too fast to make up for lost time. The problem is that neither strategy is a good one. It’s like trying to run a marathon after only running once per week the month before the race. It doesn’t work well and is likely to result in injury.
But what about our spiritual fitness? We have to be just as diligent. Just as we know that steady exercise gets us more fit, constant communication with God through prayer, saying the Rosary, and attending Mass helps get us closer to God and be more spiritually fit.
In 1997, when I was a plebe at the United States Naval Academy, a very happy Catholic Chaplain (the first Catholic Chaplain I had ever met) told us, in a very thick Boston accent, “Faith is like a muscle – the more you work it, the stronger it gets.” I had never heard that before, and I do believe it’s true.
How do we get closer to God and begin to truly know His voice and His will? By spending more time with Him. If we take our physical fitness as seriously as we take our spiritual fitness, then we could be fit in more ways than one!
In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul said, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we are imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, RSV
I believe we are all athletes. All St. Paul is doing is comparing our spiritual journey to that of an athlete. Our prize at the end of the race is eternal communion with God. That’s why we do what we do.
So the question is: are you spiritually out of shape? Have you wanted a closer relationship with God but weren’t sure how to start? Luckily, I’ve got a couple of tips:
1. Go to mass if you haven’t been in awhile. Don’t worry, your presence is welcome!
2. Volunteer. Doing something for the less fortunate tends to put our own lives in perspective and see the love and mercy of God.
3. Get outdoors. Enjoy God’s creation as often as possible. Breathe in the fresh air and thank God for the blessings and hard times in your life.
Whether you are trying to get spiritually fit or otherwise, once you start to improve one area of your life, the others will start to align as well!
Set a physical and spiritual goal for yourself. What do you want to accomplish today? This week? This month? This year? Leave a comment below to share so we can support each other! And don’t forget to check out today’s health tip!
Tip of the Day: When beginning a new exercise program, start slowly to avoid injury from over training and pick an activity that you like to do. You’ll be more likely to stick to it and won’t be sidelined by injury.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake participates in Bike to Work Day 2012 in Baltimore. (Wendy Stewart | Special to the Review)
May 18, 2012 12:38
By Wendy Stewart