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Monday 02 August |
Saint of the Day: St. Peter Julian Eymard
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How a not-great annual check-up revealed the not-great state of my soul


Joseph Hollcraft - published on 02/21/17

We need to take inventory of what we “put into” our souls (spiritual health) just as we do with our body.

I just left the doctor’s office for my annual check-up. Per the norm, I was given the results of my blood test that was taken the day before. As I skimmed over my comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) (electrolytes, kidney function, liver function and such), I noticed my glucose levels were running a little high. Sure, I thought to myself, I have certainly been pushing the sweets. Then I continued to run down the numbers, to find each number is as expected based on what I was putting into my blood system.

The more I thought about it, the more I was made to reflect upon this visit (and doctor visits in general) as a kind of “judgment.”  It would be silly for me to try to tell my cardiologist that I haven’t been eating sweets when my glucose levels were showing otherwise. There was no dodging the truth—I was eating too many sweets, and if I do not cut down on sweets, I will suffer the consequences. If I want to be in the best possible physical health, it was time I listened to what my cardiologist had to say. So by the grace of God go I, and fewer sweets it is!

By the time I parked my car in the driveway, I was thinking less about my physical health and more about my spiritual health. I imagine my final judgment might be something like my trip to the doctor. The results of my life lived will be in. I will see the good and the bad, the right from the wrong. My final judgment will not be a time for negotiation or excuses, but a conversation that will reflect how I lived my life.

The difference between my trip to the doctor’s office and final judgment is that I won’t be able to go back and go on a “spiritual diet.” For this reason, we have to be honest with ourselves and begin the process of taking inventory of what we “put into” our souls (spiritual health). If we fail to do so, the consequences will be not merely high blood pressure, but spiritual death. So what are we to do?

Among other things, we ought to start asking important questions about our appetite for such things as power, prestige, and pleasure. Do we crave control or domination in our relationships? Do we seek honorific titles? Are we yearning for the next television program after we have already watched one (this includes Netflix, Amazon and any other kind of streaming)?  Such intemperate desires are “bad food” for our spiritual health and can easily lead to spiritual exhaustion that is void of saintly vigor and energy.

Whatever it may be, we have to start accounting for what we put into our hearts. Just as we carefully watch from hand to mouth the food we digest, so should we with equal intensity watch what we put into our hearts. In other words, we ought to start discerning the importance of our spiritual health with the same vitality that we do with our physical health. To do so is to not only live with the end in mind, but to place a priority on our final trip to the office of the Divine Physician.

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