In one of my Lectio Divina sessions, the Holy Spirit presented me with an image of contemplative practice and my Lay Cistercian daily practices in the form of weight and strength training, much like what professional athletes do.

Here are some of the random thoughts that percolated through my mind.

The Holy Spirit is the strength trainer who has a gym for those who wish to go the extra mile with their spiritual commitment to “…love others as Christ loved us.”

Being a Lay Cistercian means I can join this gym and use the exercises to help my spiritual strength and awareness grow (capacitas dei).

I have a pay a fee to join (my free will chooses to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus), and I have to do what it takes to keep myself in shape for the matches to come. (Philippians 2:5)

It takes work to exercise my spirit (Holy Spirit is Spirit with upper case).

I need a workout regime, not just a one-time workout.

I need a spiritual coach to keep me honest and on task. (Holy Spirit gives me all the time I allow.)

Workouts are never easy, and there is the daily temptation that this is all a waste of time.

I need a special diet to keep my body trim and body fat down. (Eucharist)

I need to go to a physician when my body breaks down. (Penance and Sacrament of Reconciliation)

I must exercise every day, or my spiritual muscles will atrophy.

It takes time to prepare to exercise before and after each iteration of training.

I need to trust someone that they know what they are doing in planning my strength training. (Holy Spirit)

Yesterday’s victories and defeats are no indication of today’s successes or failures.

Cistercian practices include Lectio Divina, Liturgy of the Hours, Meditation, Rosary, Private Prayer, Reading Scripture, Reading Cistercian authors, discussing the Rule of St. Benedict.

Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict are the tools of Good Works.

The result of working out at the Paraclete Gym is to move from my false self to my new self each day.

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