I want to practice the spiritual disciplines of the saints and mystics, but they get in the way of my being a joyful wife and mother. How do I achieve balance here? I take pride in working out, but how do I keep this from straying into vanity?
Ask Christopher West is a weekly podcast in which Theology of the Body Institute President Christopher West and his beloved wife Wendy share their humor and wisdom, answering questions about marriage, relationships, life, and the Catholic faith, all in light of John Paul II’s beautiful teachings on the Theology of the Body.
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Q1: For years, I have studied mystical theology and put what I have learned into practice, longing for Union with God. He is so good; I do not doubt that He offers this Union to us all! However, I have bumped into a brick wall. How does one distinguish between scrupulous puritanism and the renouncement of all created things for the love of God? I love God very much and want to love Him more, but when I attempt the bodily mortifications recommended by the Saints in books about Union, I feel less capable of being a joyful wife and mother, less connected to my family in the sharing of a meal or a game or some other fun activity; a beer with my husband, for example. The fruits of these endeavors make me more difficult to live with; not more saintly! I am certain God does not want this, but He does want Union--even more than I do. That's the good news! Is there a separate path to Union for the married than to deny oneself all pleasures but those found in prayer?
Q2: Could you offer any TOB perspective on working out? If I honestly look at my heart as a young husband when I workout - the cultural air I'm breathing has filled it with vanity and ego associated with the increase of my strength. But I do feel a deep good in working out. My mind is just polluted by the culture. How can we maintain a St Joseph heart, while also putting effort into stewarding the masculine body that God gave us?
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Resources mentioned this week:
Jason Evert's Virtual Chastity Project Conference
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Christopher and Wendy hope their advice is helpful to you, but they are not licensed counseling professionals. If you are dealing with serious issues, please consult our list of trusted professionals.
Featuring music by Mike Mangione.
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