Enjoying And Exercising Our Faith

 I once heard Mother Angelica say that there are times when God allows us to enjoy our faith; those times of seeming bliss when we feel what I like to call the "warm~fuzzies", when God seems to be right there answering our every prayer just the way we would like. Then there are those times when He exercises it; when there seems to be a storm raging within us, everything and everyone seems to have it out for us, and God seems to be somewhere else.
While those times of enjoyment are wonderful, just like in the physical life, most of us need a bit more exercise spiritually. I know I certainly do, and just like in the physical realm, the "no pain~ no gain" theory also applies to the spiritual realm. Our souls need a workout if they are going to live.
I happen to be in one of those workout modes right now. What I find amazing sometimes is what God will use to whip us into shape. For me right now, He is using teenagers (and some of their parents). I work in the world of what is known as supplemental education, and in these parts it is final exam time. Every teenager within a 20 mile radius of this learning center wants help with studying for exams! Well the schedule is what the schedule is and the times they want are not always the times we have available. But teens being who they are~ most of them not being able to see past their own little worlds, have some difficulty with this. What is this doing to me? Well my knee jerk reaction is to get a little whiny and cranky myself (and I am sorry to say, I have). After I have my tantrum when no one is around, I realize what it is that God is trying to do for my good. So I tell Him I am sorry and ask if we can start again.
In thinking, praying and meditating on all this, I realize how very important my faith and spiritual life are in terms of living life in general. Now that sounds like a "no kidding" kind of statement, but I also realize in these times of spiritual workout, how easy it is to begin to let my spiritual life slide.
When I completed my Rachel's Vineyard retreat, the team and facilitator talked about how important it is to have a formula for your spiritual life. That formula is different for everyone. For me, it consists of daily Mass and at least weekly adoration before the Blessed Sacrament (although I do try to get there more often when possible). Morning and Evening prayer with Magnificat is also a staple for me. That's my formula; it works for me. Yours may be different. The important thing is to stick with it. In Rachel's Vineyard, they used the analogy of a baby and what happens if you don't feed the baby~ it gets sick and could die. Our spiritual life is no different; we need to feed our faith as well or it will get sick and eventually die.
The Evil One knows all of this as well, and he can be very slick in the ways he attacks. For me, and I imagine for many, it starts with little things chipping away at that formula; "I don't need to go to Mass today, I'm too tired to pray evening prayer, and then it begins to snowball. In my own life, I find that when I stay away from the sacrament of Reconciliation for too long, those little things become a huge boulder that flattens me before I have time to get out of the way!
I guess my point is that we all need to remain spiritually fit so that we can fight the enemy in our own personal lives as well as fight the good fight in the grand scheme for God's kingdom here on earth.
Those darling teenagers I talked about earlier... well I guess I should thank them for being the saint~makers that they are.
So let us enjoy our faith when God allows, and rise up to the challenge of exercising it when He calls us to do that too. Like any good task master, He is right there with us every step of the way.
Remember: No Pain~No Gain! So go ahead~ drop and give Our Lady 10! (Hail Mary's)

Abbot Joseph of Word Incarnate has an excellent post related to what I talked of here. In his post Surround Sound, he has used an excerpt from a book on writing books and shows how the author's analogies can be related to our spiritual lives.

Comments

Mary333 said…
That's funny that we should both mention the snowball effect of sin today. Then again, I guess it's no surprise since the same Holy Spirit works in each of us and the posts fit in well with today's Mass readings as we see this "snowballing sin" in Ahab's life, too. I did see the similarities and the exhortation in our posts.
I loved the comparison between physical fitness and spiritual fitness! I'm getting a workout lately, too. No warm fuzzies here! AWWW, RATS;)

Okay, I'll drop and give Our Lady ten for the "Awww Rats" comment.
Mary333 said…
"Surround Sound" was great and so true! Thanks for the link.
Karinann said…
Mary,
So true about the same Holy Spirit at work. Actually when I was listening to the Mass reading about poor Ahab this morning, what struck me was that God was going to punish his son's generation- gave me the thought of God saying something to the effect of "Someone's got to pay for this mess!" What will future generations have to pay for ours?!
Glad you liked Abbot Joseph's post. I love his writing- can't wait for his new book.
Well our teens are due in beginning in about an hour- let's see what kind of workout God has in store for me today :)
Anne said…
This is great! I have never thought of the dry times and difficult times of prayer and the stresses in our lives as spiritual exercise, but it makes so much sense! With physical exercise, I always remind myself that I need to be consistent. This post shows that consistency is also relevant with prayer!
Remember: No Pain~No Gain! So go ahead~ drop and give Our Lady 10! (Hail Mary's)

OH MY OH MY!!! How much do I love that?!?!?!? ::SPREADS ARMS AS WIDE AS POSSIBLE::

"Thiiiissssss much!"

Thanks Karinann!
Great post.

God will not allow us to be pushed or tested beyond our capabilities.

God bless.
Colleen said…
Enjoyed this post. Can relate very well. Going through much the same thing (what a surprise). What helps me a lot is that I work at the church. So God is talked about all day long and the chapel is just a parking lot away. I get my physical AND spiritual exercise when I walk over there. :)
Hugs and God bless!
Karinann said…
Thanks for your thoughts on this, everyone.
Victor- good point to remember about not being tried or tested beyond what we can handle.

Judy- that last line came to me seemingly out of no where :)

Colleen- I can imagine being in an atmosphere that is conducive to spirituality is a help. I like getting your physical exercise on your way to see Jesus :)
Colleen said…
Karinann, please pray. My new grandson is having some "issues." Tests being done. Thanks.
Karinann said…
Colleen- I sure will!