Father Pawel Autumn Reflection 2016

Dear friends,img_2474

Before I begin my reflection on the main topic of this article, I want you to know that writing is not my favorite activity, and in addition, English is not my first language! Nevertheless, I hope you will find my reflection interesting, and maybe, it would convince you to join me in keeping an “All Year Body & Spirit” work out plan.

W zdrowym ciele, zdrowy duch. “Healthy body, healthy spirit”- It seems to be a well-known rule that leads the world today. I have heard that Polish phrase hundreds of time while growing up and I still hear it being used in conversations.

Nowadays, the world promotes care for the body, both healthy eating and exercise. Our meals are determined by various diets, and it is fashionable to go jogging or Nordic walking. But are these truly enough to improve our life?

I have no doubt that “Healthy body, healthy spirit” has a positive meaning overall. It is important to note, however, that there is a danger of simplifying the meaning of that phrase. We can have a healthy, good looking body, yet we can still have a sick soul. Also to the contrary, we can experience holiness and love while having a very fragile body. There is no doubt that a healthy body can help us in experiencing happiness, but it cannot guarantee it.

Sometimes, I’ve heard my friends say that sports have changed them for the better. Since they have become active in sport, they perceive the world around them differently. They gain social skills through interactions with others in sport activities.

pawel-mexico-2From my own experience in the seminary, I can’t even remember how many times my spiritual director advised me to be more physically active. I’ve been told that a man who regularly does sports strengthens not only muscles but also his self-esteem and emotional system. How true! I find that experiencing the “victory over the flesh” through sports and physical activity has a positive effect not only on the physiological functioning of the body, but it also reinforces a positive self-image.

In addition, you may be surprised to know that an active and pro-health lifestyle has a significant impact on spirituality.

Regular exercise means a better heart functioning and blood circulation. Exercise helps the body to relax. All of these help us to stay focus in prayer because it is difficult to meditate while being sleepy or exhausted.

Of course this does not mean that a man cannot pray if he doesn’t have time for exercise, but if the body is completely neglected, it reflects negatively on the quality of one’s spiritual life.

Now, the best way to assist our spiritual life is through contemplation. The goal of this is to immerse yourself in the presence of God.

One of the fruits of being in such a state is an increased sense of openness, which helps to live truly in communion with others. In contemplation, one’s perception of seeing everything around changes, starting with the individual, and ending with God. His revelation then becomes not only the Bible, the sacraments, the teaching of the Pope, but also the events of everyday life, relations with others, and nature. Although the body is not the purpose of Christian meditation, we should not underestimate or ignore the body, because in the body and through the body, the Holy Spirit is at work.pawel-mexico-3

Some might say “Having good health guarantees happiness and fullness of life,” but this statement is not the whole picture. Being in good health does not mean someone possesses the fullness of happiness.

Because I want to sum up this reflection in a way that contributes to your life, let me rephrase the last quote in a more meaningful way; Even though good health does not determine our happiness, it is one of our most fundamental values which helps us to live our lives for others. It is good to do an “All Year Body & Spirit” exercise plan.

I wrote this reflection after my last trip (September 2016) to Guadalajara, Mexico, where I had an opportunity to spent some time with priests and seminarians from Guadalajara Seminary who, besides spending time on daily prayer and classes, are obliged to participate in various sport activities.

In Christ,

Fr. Pawel Barwikowski

Associate Pastor


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