Good Habits for Training the Body and Soul

Simple Catholic Snapshots

  • We are astonishing and unique – created in His image.
  • Gifts of body, soul and life itself.
  • Take care of the body with three square meals and exercise.
  • Nurture the soul with a diet of humility and gratitude.
  • Dedicate each day to His glory.
  • Make the Time for these Spiritual Habits!!!

Simple Catholic Truth

Introduction

It’s so obvious – everyone knows it. We’ve all heard the campaigns. Three squares a day, regular exercise and 8 hours of sleep can help keep your body healthy and growing strong. We know how to take care of our bodies but how well do we really follow that advice? Remember the salad for dinner? Sure, but don’t forget last week – that extra slice of pizza and the chocolate double fudge brownie for dessert. It’s hard to do what’s right because, lets face it, pizza and brownies taste sooo goood!

Now, what about our souls? We’ve all heard the campaigns. Daily prayer, receive the Sacraments, and Adoration can help keep your soul healthy and growing strong.  Remember the weekly Sunday Mass?

Sure, but how long has it been since Confession or when was that last stop at the Adoration Chapel? It’s hard to do what’s right because, lets face it, doing nothing is sooo eeeasy.

 

The Story…

That squawking alarm abruptly calls an end to the escape of slumber. You might say it’s just another day and in a sense you’d be right and you’d also be wrong. Same time each morning of course, but this moment is different.
It’s not yesterday, lost forever, unchangeable. Not tomorrow either, for that is still distant and untouchable. The alarm announces the now, a place and time of fleeting opportunity. The question is, what will I make of this day, this unique gift and opportunity?

Every part of my lazy body wants to stay at rest, claiming victory with the status quo. ‘Just roll over and snooze’, the body calls. But reason responds with ‘get moving, time is wasting’.  Left to it’s own, the body slowly decays. The muscles, once driven to power and stamina will slowly atrophy to weakness. Likewise, the soul, even rich with God’s life itself, sins again and drifts towards eternal emptiness. Thankfully, even these deadly tendencies of both body and soul can be stopped. We’ve been given all the tools, we just need to get to work and use them.

The mental battle continues until finally the feet hit the floor. The race is at hand and the training begins.

A Good Breakfast Includes Humility

We all know a healthy body requires a diet of good balanced food and today begins with fresh fruit, perhaps some wheat toast or grain cereal and maybe an egg or yogurt. The exact menu doesn’t matter, just a commitment to properly prepare the body.

But we’re far from being ready.  The soul also needs some spiritual nutrition and that means morning prayer. As important as a good breakfast for the body, the soul requires some spiritual nutrition to start the day. Again, the exact menu is not important but there is one item of morning prayer that must never be left out – humility. Everything we are, everything we have, everything we can do or will do today is a gift from God, and we should never forget it. Start the day with a simple prayer centered on humility. Ask God to reveal His will for your efforts today and ask for the strength to persevere. Acknowledge in prayer this day as a unique gift and an opportunity for His glory. That’s the way to start the day.

Lunch – A time for Recovery and Refocus

We’ve all had them, those days. Whatever your particular story happens to be, this has been one of those mornings. Whether wrangling the kids or prepping for the next presentation, it’s been an all-out effort. Every runny nose wiped and diaper changed, every customer nose wiped or best laid sales plan that turned to poop, they all are incredibly taxing. Worst of all those challenges are most distracting.

The best intentions that we started off today are now at risk – the victim of the all-too-ordinary circumstance of daily life. This is perhaps the most critical moment of the day when we are tempted to skip that essential square meal and head for the vending machine ‘just this once’ for that quick Twinky that will save the day. We know the three squares rule, but we don’t have time. ‘Just this once…’, we say. ‘Just this once…’
The bad news is that just this once moments tend to become habits and we all know where that leads. For the good of the body, we must make time for a good midday meal. It’s a simple message actually, so grab some well balanced calories and be genuinely ready for the rest of the day.

And so it is also for the soul.
All the wrangling and wiping unfortunately has a tendency to bring out the worst in each of us. This is how the spirit and life of God can slowly leak away from our souls. The patience and tolerance and love of Christ the we should be demonstrating can easily be displaced by the old fallen tendencies of  anger and selfishness. Under these stresses we can revert to our old self and begin to see the trials and problems of the day as our problems, and the solutions to be had through our effort. Of course nothing is farther from the truth. We must reset our perspective and humbly recenter the day on God.

Make time for a few quiet minutes with God during lunchtime. Ask again for His help. He has freely gifted you these children and these customers and all other challenges, and will be equally eager to gift you the strength and direction to persevere. If you have 20 seconds, offer it to God with a quiet moment. If you have 20 minutes, go take a walk and pray the Rosary. Take a moment and walk with God, I guarantee that the runny noses will still be there when you return.

The doctors tell us that lunch is the most important meal of the day for our bodies. The Doctors of the Church have been telling us the same for our souls. Time to follow the doctor’s orders.

Dinner – Final Togetherness in Gratitude

So the day is winding to a close but the training is not quite over. Of course, evening meal should again be well balanced but the real nutrition comes from eating with family or friends. It’s no accident that our Lord directed us in relationship to come together at table, to share the day and each other. Families should do their best to slow down and make this meal the family meal.

In our rat race pace of living, this is the opportunity most lost today. Dinner is the time when the individual stories of skinned knees and home runs, difficult homework and A+ awards, and hugs, and runny noses, become family stories. That story becomes our story. That hurt becomes our hurt. That joy becomes our joy.

“Bless us O Lord and these thy Gifts…” are the words we use start our meals, and for good reason. They highlight the most essential ingredient of good spiritual habits and that is gratitude. We say that all these gifts come from God and of course in fact they do. So as the day winds down, make sure the final thoughts include a healthy dose of gratitude to our God in heaven. Be thankful for this day, the gift of life, for all the blessings in diapers and the challenges in suits and ties. Thank Him for the little successes, apologize for the shortfalls and ask for another tomorrow.

So there you have it – my recipe of simple habits that can help train the body and soul toward holiness:

  • Start the day in Humility, surrendering self and the day to God.
  • Refocus with a mid-day reminder of the incredible love of Father, the sacrifice of the Son, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  • End the day with a chorus of Gratitude.

Much like an athlete, developing these spiritual training habits is not easy at first. But again like the athlete, the body and soul will quickly respond. We become our habits and wouldn’t these be great habits to have?

Make the time!

Final Commentary

These are my thoughts of daily routines and attitudes that have helped my spiritual journey. If you would like to share your own ‘habits’ please feel free to add those as well in the comment section.

Much of the above commentary in this blog post revolves around the importance of daily prayer. I believe the cornerstone of effective prayer is the virtue of humility. I wrote about this in a previous blog that you can read HERE.

One thought on “Good Habits for Training the Body and Soul”

  1. The ways you mention are really inspiring – this reminds me of this poem Man with his burning soul has but an hour of breath to build a ship of Truth in which his soul must sail – sail on the sea of death – as death takes toll of beauty wealth and youth of all but Truth.The Truth really sets us free as that what each one, created in God’s Image and Likeness, was meant to be. Grace thro His Sacraments esp The Eucharist gives us the super strength to do His Will. Today is St John Paul’s day and the Rosary is so very powerful and an antidote for the enemy. Thanks once again for emphazing the eternal vis a vis the temporal.

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