Training for victory

| Ben Tlougan | August 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
Runner training for marathon

iStock/Nastco

Training and preparation: We all know these are needed for difficult tasks. The hardest part of running a marathon isn’t the actual marathon — it’s the hours, days, weeks and months of running that are required to prepare for it. If you try running a marathon without preparation, you will end up like the first guy who did it, and keel over dead.

But that’s a story for another time.

The Catholic Spirit recently published a number of stories on health and hard work. Over the last two months, this column has related to sports and overcoming challenges. In June, we learned about a nutritionist helping our seminarians and priests be healthier through diet and exercise, and earlier this month, we read about Father John Floeder, the weight-lifting priest. I’m continuing the theme.

St. Paul writes to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Why does Paul compare our life to a fight or a race? What he is trying to do is help us understand that like in a fight or a race, our spiritual fight and race also require training. You don’t sign up for a marathon, or even a 10K, and think you can sit on your couch all summer and then show up on race day and finish strong. You don’t join the Army and assume you will simply win on the day of battle. For both, you train — hard — for months or years.

For a marathon, you run six days a week, with those runs gradually lengthening until you’ve gotten close to the 26.2 miles you’ll need to run on race day. Meanwhile, you manage a specific diet to complement the training.

Likewise, for war, you train with your weapons, explore tactics and learn to operate on little to no sleep. You study your opponent to understand their tactics, and you train with cardio and conditioning — including carrying all your gear — to make sure you have the stamina to make it through the battle.

However, in our spiritual lives, we often think we can just go to Mass on Sundays and then we’ll be ready for whatever challenges come our way. Why is this? If you only run one day a week, it will not prepare you for the long grueling run on race day. You have to train daily.

Just like with physical training, spiritual training is a discipline that has not only to do with exercise, but also with what we consume. Our “exercises” are prayer, reconciliation, eucharistic adoration and theological study. Our “food” is the Mass and reading God’s Word. You need to eat more than once a week to survive physically, and the same is true spiritually.

For any discipline, we need a training plan. Daily practices could include prayer, Bible reading and a chapter of a good, faith-based book. Weekly practices could include daily Mass (at least once a week), Holy Hour and (should include) Sunday Mass. Monthly practices could include reconciliation.

I know some will say, “I don’t have time.” However, the truth is, we have time for what is important to us. At our judgment, do we want to say to God, “I would have worked to be stronger spiritually, but I didn’t have time?” Or do we want to let our discipline in our spiritual life speak for itself?

Don’t let another day go by wasting time on the computer, phone or TV that could have been spent strengthening your spirit.

Get up now, get moving. Rise and shine!

Tlougan is an Army combat veteran and the director of discipleship for youth, young adults and men at St. Hubert in Chanhassen. Learn about the archdiocese’s Catholic Watchmen initiative online or on Facebook.

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Category: Catholic Watchmen