Monday, December 1, 2014

Today I discovered something. The glorious Deadlift, and why priests shouldn't be afraid of fitness.

My first thought was, “O Deadlift, where have you been all my life and why have I not known thee?” What an amazing lift! It engages all my muscles and demanded more strength than I have ever asked of my body.

No this is not a deadlift, but a warm up military press. Only picture I had.
To those of you who do not know what a deadlift is:

It is one of the most difficult lifts that engages all of the body’s major muscles.  You place a metal bar on the ground and start adding weights. I found myself comfortable with 100 lbs.  Then you pick up the bar standing up straight.  And set it down.  I picked it up and set it down 56 times in the short period of 7 minutes, stoping every 30 seconds to catch my breath.  That means I lifted almost three tons in seven minutes.  Booya!

And to those of you who are now asking yourselves, “Why is a priest doing such a thing, doing a deadlift, and then blogging about it? What does this have to do with God, the Church, and being holy?

Quite simply, Jesus was buff.  He was the perfect man, fully developed.  He was so, not just because he worked as a carpenter, or as the Greek in the New Testament calls him, a Tekton, one who worked predominantly in those days with stone, lifting heavy stone, cutting sharp stone, finishing hard stone.  He was well built not only because he is in the highest perfection that a man could be as the Incarnate God made man, but because it would make him the perfect sacrifice to carry a very very very heavy Cross.

I have recently made this discovery as a priest and as a man, how beautiful and good and worthy it is to care of, and develop my body.  It is so not just because lifting weights releases endorphins which help my immune system, which particularly helps me in this mission in the Philippines, where getting sick quite frankly is the pits. It is good to become well built not just because chemicals are released by my body that actually boost my mood making me happy and feeling light and very strong.  It is good to become well built, because by being a priest, I am also a Victim.  I am a sacrifice.  I suffer.  A lot.  It is part of my life, and I have found that being healthy, eating right, and dedicating time to being fit, like the Lord Jesus who was fit enough to cary a very heavy Cross squarely and joyfully on his shoulders, makes my life closer to the life of Jesus Christ.

I am a formator of seminarians.  Basically what that means is I live with future priests, and firstly by my example teach them how to be priests.  Quite a few of them actually have started lifting weights, working out, and watching more closely what they eat as well.

Barbel curl of 35 lbs.
In my last parish I lost 80 pounds and made it into a kind of slim-a-thon, to raise money for the parish, but also to raise an awareness of being healthy, having self control, and exercising will power to not follow a self-gratifying consuming culture.  I dare say that it made the Gospel more attractive, appealing, and I do believe that it did contribute to bringing people to love and serve Jesus Christ.

Getting fit helps with asceticism.  It makes you more frugal.  It focuses you.  It also makes you a better version of yourself.  The testosterone your muscles make doesn’t just make your more strong in body, more joyful, and more certain, but also can aid you to transfer the work of the body to the work of the spirit, in choosing good and avoiding evil.

It is not that hard to get fit. You just do it. What is hard is to have the will to do it, to want it, and to make choices that contribute to it.

Advent is a good time to make difficult choices, to take up penance, especially of doing what you should be doing anyway but fail to because of different circumstances or weaknesses.

This Advent, the priest I am staying with told me that he is committing to working out in the gym three times a week, and was in fact recommended by his spiritual director, to be consistent to this commitment would focus him on the rest.  It is good to have people around you that are all choosing to be healthy, and to cultivate accountable relationships, brothers and sisters, who will not drag you down, but lift you up, and remind you of the lofty calling you have to the life of perfection not only of charity, but to become the best version of yourself possible.

I encourage you to make part of your discipleship, the disciplining of your body, that you may become fully alive, awake, and ready for the coming of the Lord!

1 comment:

  1. Praise God for all his graces. I, too, decided to do something about my habits and weight over a year ago. I actually did the 33Day Consecration to Mary and asked her to help me with this journey. Last October, 2013, I started on this weight management plan and as of today, I have lost 69 pounds. I started walking more and going to the gym at least on Fridays. Did I mention that I am going to be 72 years old on Dec. 8th? I have been a yo-yo all my life and this is something that I am committed to keep up. Our Blessed Mother Mary has been by my side and I have more energy and ambition and I need it as I am involved in volunteering at my parish. Even our Associate Pastor decided to do the same thing as I did. As I said at the start, God be Praised. Thanks for letting us know about your journey.