Off the Wagon
January 25, 2021
Filed In: Philosophy
After years of practice and observation, I know the keep components that I need to build up physical health. I need to walk for an hour daily, drink lots of water, read in the evening before bed, and go to sleep and wake up at about the same time. These are not new ideas, they are not even really negotiable. When I do them all over a sustained period of time, usually two weeks, I feel the difference.
The body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the living Tabernacle that welcomes Christ the King to physically dwell within it each week during Mass. St. Francis was, by modern standards, notoriously stingy. He eschewed almost all comfort and certainly any degree of wealth. He taught his brothers to beg for everything: project materials, food, shelter, clothing. However, when it came to spending on things for the Lord, he was extravagant! Francis insisted that the Churches be furnished with things that befitted the King of the Universe. If God comes to dwell within me, I should prepare myself spiritually and physically to receive him.
When I’m off the wagon and out of sync, it’s difficult to get back on track. I have my share of false starts and, though I’m tempted to give up, I somehow persist. Eventually, I get back on track and staying the course becomes that much easier, it becomes routine.
The same should be true in our spiritual life. I’d be willing to bet that all of us are still confessing at least one sin that we’ve struggled with for more than a decade. Every time we go to Confession, it’s on the list.
From the outside, a fair critique would be that we ought to give up on trying to erase that sin. If we’ve confessed it for the better part of a decade, why not just accept it as a character flaw and focus on something else? Though we may be tempted to feel this sense of hopelessness (and even despair), it’s at that precise moment that our faith tells us to carry on.
Holiness is the work of a lifetime. By our returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, month after month, year after year, we attest to the fact that we’ve not yet given up. We seek another fresh start to try to overcome. That is the true Christian life: constant examination, constant work, constant renewal.
Physical health and spiritual health are two sides of the same coin. The human person is integrated, each component and system symbiotically impacting and effecting the other. To care for the physical self is to care for the spiritual self. To care for the spiritual self is to care for the emotional self.
When we’re off the wagon of our daily routine, or off the wagon of our spiritual routine, we must have the courage and hope to persist. One day, with the right combination of actions, we’ll be back on track and ready to welcome the King on Sunday morning.