Spiritual fitness

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Padre (Lieutenant Navy) Frédéric Lamarre, Chaplain

One of the requirements of military life is being in good shape physically. Physical fitness training is generally part of our daily routine. We even have to undergo physical fitness testing every year. Why is it so important to be physically fit? Because we need to develop physical strength and endurance to prepare our bodies for future military operations.

As a chaplain, I believe that humans are also spiritual beings. It’s just as vital that we care for ourselves spiritually, as physically. We need spiritual training to develop good spiritual health. Spiritual practice allows us to go inside ourselves and discover a sacred space where Peace and God’s Love reign. Training our being through the exercise of daily prayer and meditation increases our capacity to get in touch with this inner peace. The more we practise this reflex to delve into the very core of our being, the easier it is to access this sacred space in times of torment. Indeed, the healthier we are spiritually, the better equipped we are to cope with life’s hardships (failure, injustice, conflict, illness, suffering and death).

The image of the ocean is a good illustration of this. The agitated ocean surface represents all the emotions we experience as we go about our daily lives (anger, sadness, shame, excitement, joy, fear, fatigue, etc.). If we stay on the surface, we are at the mercy of the sea, constantly tossed about by emotions that ebb and flow. However, if we learn to dive properly equipped (spiritual exercises), we can access the peace and tranquillity of the ocean floor. By descending deeper into our own soul, we can acquire a certain detachment from the hustle and bustle of daily life and restore our strength.

Like physical training, learning to plunge into the depths of our own soul takes time, discipline and effort. Physical performance improves with repetitions of movements and a gradual increase in intensity. Consistent training is also needed to maintain any gains we make. The same rules apply to spiritual fitness.

I’ll leave you with these questions for further reflection. 
- Do you care about your spiritual health?
- Are you motivated to devote time to it?
- What spiritual fitness program would suit you best? 
- What concrete steps are you prepared to take to start training?

If I touched your heart with this article and you would like to get together and talk, please feel free to email me at frederic.lamarre@forces.gc.ca.

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