To be healthy we need to look at ourselves as a whole person: it is important to attend to exercise, good food choices, emotional health, friendships, time for reflection and prayer, intellectual and moral development.... Without any one of these elements, we would not be healthy and whole.
This gives us a clue to the answer to our question: to be spiritually fit we also need to look at ourselves holistically. We want to have an intentional approach to our intellectual, moral and religious development. We would want to examine our thoughts, our choices, our preferences and desires, our relationship with God, our relationships with others, and our relationships with ourself.
Below is a way to explore your spiritual health. In a sacred space or a quiet time, ask yourself:
How healthy is my way of thinking: what are my prejudices, opinions, biases, agendas... How much do I know about my faith? How much do I know about myself as a committed Christian?
How healthy is my way of loving: how closely do my desires align with those of Christ which I can discover in the Gospels? What are my relationships with others like? Do I love myself or reject myself?
How healthy is my way of acting: is my behavior characterized by giving or getting? Are there choices I have made or which I make daily which God is asking me to reconsider?
How healthy is my sacramental life: Is my life marked by an awareness of my baptism (if you were baptized)? What is the rhythm of my reception of the Eucharist? Of the sacrament of reconciliation?
If we want to become "spiritually fit" and stay that way, we need to attend to our life on every level: mind, will, and heart. Throughout the stages of our life, God, like a good trainer, asks us to relook at different aspects of our life in order to follow him anew as his disciple.
You might want to think about where the Lord might be asking you to be more aware of your thoughts, actions, or desires in order to take new directions in your life. The following books might be helpful places to start:
Basic Catechism: FAQs About the Catholic Faith. Mary Lea Hill, FSP and Susan Helen Wallace, FSP. This question-and-answer catechism is a best-selling handbook for exploring the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Catechism is divided into four pillars which cover every aspect of our faith and every aspect of our life: Creed, Sacraments, Christian Morality, and Prayer. What makes Basic Catechism so helpful is that its short answers are detailed yet easy to read.
Meeting Jesus Christ. By J. Brian Bransfield. When a person is thinking about being more spiritually fit, he or she naturally is seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. Yet this relationship can seem very elusive since one can't see Jesus. The value of this book is that it opens up the Word of God so that you feel as though you are reliving the biblical events where we learn most about him. You are able to see Jesus with new eyes. The One you seek helps you become holy and whole.
Prayer and You: Wit and Wisdom from a Crabby Mystic. Mary Lea Hill, FSP. It is prayer that connects you, so to speak, with the torrent of grace God is sending your way when you desire spiritual fitness. Through God's gift of himself you will be transformed. But sometimes one doesn’t know where to begin. How do I pray? Where do I start? This book is warm and witty, delightful and challenging. It is like sitting down with a spiritual director who has a great sense of humor.
Sr. Kathryn J. Hermes, fsp