Strength-building program develops body and soul
"The body and only the body is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine" (St. John Paul II).
For some, at first, the idea that physical exercise can be beneficial to our prayer life sounds strange. Prompting the question, what does physical movement have to do with spiritual prayer?
However, when we start to consider our Catholic faith, we realize it is a body-centric faith, wholly centered on the Eucharist, the sacrificial offering of Christ body to redeem us. We can imitate His bodily sacrifice in the sacrifices of our own bodies. In this way, every day activities such as work, caring for children and helping those in need become a living prayer.
When you think about it, it makes sense that God wants us to use external expressions that correspond with interior prayer (CCC 2703). The need to involve the senses in interior prayer comes from a requirement of our human nature. We are body and spirit, and we experience the need to translate our feelings externally. We must pray with our whole being to give all power possible to our prayerful supplication (CCC 2702).
When we engage body, mind and soul, our prayer becomes more powerful. We see this wisdom in our Catholic liturgy that includes different body postures that correspond to each part of the Mass. We stand to sing, signifying we are active participants; we sit, the posture of listening and learning, for the Liturgy of the Word; and kneel during the Liturgy of the Eucharist in reverence and adoration. In this way, the body helps to lead the mind and soul in prayer.
The soul is not isolated in a specific part of the body, but is present throughout our body. Therefore, what we do with and to our bodies affects our soul. This is true not only during Mass, but throughout our every day life.
Scripture tells us that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (in need of strength and discipline). As we strengthen or discipline our bodies (through exercise, eating healthily or fasting) there is a corresponding strengthening of our "spiritual muscles" or virtues (patience, perseverance, sacrifice, fortitude etc.). This combination helps us to build bodies and souls more willing and able to carry our daily crosses and more able to be faithful in difficult choices. In contrast, a lack of physical discipline can undermine or even erode spiritual growth.
Through a deeper understanding of this ourselves, came the desire to integrate strengthening body & soul together and SoulCore was conceived. A movement that combines prayers of the rosary with core and isometric exercises. A true two for one; toning our spiritual muscles while exerting our physical ones! Whether attending a class or following the DVD workout, SoulCore participants truly experience the reality that we can glorify God with our bodies. In fact, the body is a vehicle by which we connect to God, Our Creator.
Reverend John Joseph Myers, Archbishop of Newark, wrote that there are two dangers in respect to the human body: the glorification of the body, which pervades our culture today, or denying the reality of the body. SoulCore is just one of many ways by which we can include our bodies in prayer, offering God ALL that we are.
St. John Paul II said that “For a Christian, the body’s significance is good, inescapable, and central; Christianity itself cannot be understood apart from an appreciation of the body.” This Lent, and indeed every day, we have the opportunity to be faithful stewards of our body. Proper nutrition, rest, exercise and care become a prayer of obedience and gratitude when our intent is to be the most fit version of ourselves so that we may serve God fully.
Colleen Scariano is a founder of SoulCore and inspirational speaker for the Love Foolishly Mission. For More Information About SoulCore, Visit www.soulcoreproject.com