This past month I revisited an inner battle that you might be able to relate to.
With daylight savings time causing a sunset long before I’m home from work, what little fitness time I used to carve out of the day by running or walking after work was no longer a possibility.
The “Groupons” for gym memberships began piling up in my e-mail box, but I found myself intimidated by the pictures of svelte pony-tailed blondes jogging on sparkling treadmills.
They looked so glamorous, like they had eaten wheatgrass for lunch and stopped to powder their nose between reps.
The recurrence of skinny jeans with this season’s fashion trends left me no other option, though.
I signed up and braced myself for the humiliation of being the only girl breaking a sweat in a room full of supermodels.
Swiping my key card for the first time, I looked around to eye the competition for the elliptical and realized just how ridiculous my logic had been.
There were no supermodels, or even normal models. Only a trio of gangly adolescent boys trying to get ahead for track team and some middle-aged folks on their way to Zumba. Sweaty, normal people just like me.
This time of year, we’ll make lots of resolutions for self-improvement, vowing to finally take that spin class or do the detox kit that’s hidden in the pantry behind the stash of chocolate.
We know that there’s no way to be healthier besides the sheer grit and determination of diet and exercise and to postpone such acts just because we’re afraid of the gym crowd is silly.
However, we often avoid spiritual improvement for equally absurd reasons.:
• “I can’t go to confession to my pastor, what would he think of me?”
• “Mass this Sunday? After the Saturday night I had? I need to wait until I get my act together before I hang out with the church crowd.”
These are the excuses that I hear from teens and adults when I extend an invitation to the sacraments, and they’re probably phrases that you’ve heard or even uttered yourself.
While humbly recognizing that we are undeserving of the grace of God is admirable, refusing the gift of grace and avoiding the Church and the Sacraments is as foolish as me avoiding the gym because I thought I was out of shape.
St. Augustine of Hippo explained this best, stating that “the Church is not a hotel for saints but a hospital for sinners.”
Considering that we all have the fatal illness called “life”, the Church is a pretty important hospital for us to become acquainted with.
As you make your resolutions and evaluate where your life needs improvement, consider adding to your spiritual regimen as well.
When Cardinal Dolan addressed the Bishops this past November, he reminded them that as the Church seeks to affect the culture, “we cannot challenge unless we first let Him challenge us.”
Whether it be more frequent reception of the sacraments, resolving to make regular attendance at Mass your first priority or increasing your time in prayer, accept the ongoing challenge of Catholicism.
You’re in 2000 years of good company.