Can We Please Pursue Spiritual Excellence At Least as Hard as We Do for Sports and Academics? Fr. Bill Peckman – July 21, 2018
Anything we deem as important, we usually will try to master.
You see this with athletes. They will alter exercise routines, nourishment, and upend their schedule to grow better at a sport. You see this with gamers. They will spend inordinate amounts of time and energy to up their skill level to get better.
You see this with craftsmen. They will dig down and learn techniques that help them master their trade. You see this with serious scholars who will spend hour upon hour learning, studying, and expanding their understanding. You see this with body builders who will get meticulous about nutrition, exercise, and spend long hours in the gym to sculpt what they deem to be the perfect body.
These all take dedication and a willingness to sacrifice and suffer for whatever they deem worthy of that time and energy. It is true for physical pursuits. It is true for intellectual pursuits.
Here is a fact: it is also true spiritual pursuits. While God gives us grace, the pursuit of holiness is not easy. Like matters of the body and soul, it requires discipline, time, energy, and a willingness to sacrifice and suffer to grow stronger.
Here is another fact, a rather sobering one: the athlete and bodybuilder end up dying just like anyone else. So does the gamer, the scholar, and the craftsmen. Don’t let these pursuits become so primary that you ignore the only thing that lasts: your soul.
We allow the pursuit of the temporary crowd out the pursuit of the eternal. We believe we can regulate the eternal as a matter of convenience that will be attended to once activities we deem more important are sated. This is short sighted. We teach our children what is more important and worthy of their time.
This is not an either/or proposition. One can be a great athlete, scholar, or craftsmen without neglecting their soul. It is about priority and discipline. Think about this when the choice between sports and faith come up. Think about this when you cede ground on Sundays to yet more worldly activities. Balance. That is what I am proposing.
To quote Christ, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8.36)