by Fr Richard Heilman | May 12, 2017 2:10 PM
By Fr. Bill Peckman:
I have been asked as to what has gotten into me (in a good way) as of late.
I think I can answer that with 2 words: Nineveh 90
Since the actual program ends tomorrow, I think I can give a summation on how it has changed me.
We have to go back to February.
I was grossly overweight. I am pretty sure I went roaring over 300 lbs again. Pretty much everything started looking like sausage casing on me. I wasn’t depressed, but I was wildly disappointed in myself. My body was the physical manifestation of my soul.
I had been over 320 at one time and made the resolution 4 years ago to lose it. I did. 70 lbs of it. I made it to 250. I did it by diet and exercise for the most part. But, like so many, it didn’t last. Every bad habit came back. Every good habit dissipated.
My prayer life was functional. It had been better in years past. I was doing what I had promised: Mass and Divine Office. My devotional life was almost in a state of rigor mortis, Time spent on this and reading was commandeered by time spent on TV and way too much time on the internet. The car? Well. the radio was on most of the time. I spent much of the time in a cloud of agitation. I knew I wasn’t where I needed to be or where my flock needed me to be.
I was not setting a good trajectory in life and I knew it.
When Fr. Richard Heilman started advertising Nineveh 90 as a way of preparing for the 100th Anniversary of Fatima, I was initially adverse to the idea. I knew I was not where God wanted me physically, spiritually, or mentally. I has grown comfortable with complaining about the stresses (and there are a lot) of being a pastor and priest and using food, wrath, and sloth as compensation for my stress. I just didn’t want to do the hard work to change what needed to be changed. Within a few days of its beginning, it came to me by the grace of God, that my aversion to Nineveh 90 was probably a good sign that it was exactly where God wanted me.
Unlike the last time I did the whole exercise and diet thing, this time there would be a spiritual component. Fasting and abstinence were part and parcel of the program. This wasn’t merely from food and drink, but from TV and such. The first few weeks sucked. Why? It was hard, to be sure, but that’s not why it sucked. It sucked because I had to come to grips with the fact that I had allowed learned helplessness to be my excuse for my slide. All the cultivation of temperance and faith reminded me that I was being my own worst enemy. I could pinpoint with astonishing accuracy the problems, but not so much with the solutions. N 90 forced me to focus on the solutions. No more learned helplessness. No more excuses.
TV went away and spiritual reading, prayer, and exercise took its place. After reading St Louis de Monfort’s “True Devotion of the BVM”, my appreciation for the rosary and Mary’s intercessions grew phenomenally. More and more, my vision started clearing and my acceptance for excuses and feigning helplessness became intolerable. Pounds started dropping. I am probably really close to my low weight before. My devotional life started flourishing.
The difference this time is I have no intention of going back. I do not want to be the priest, the catholic, or the man I was in February. He wasn’t a bad man…but he was weak.
My columns of the past few days point to a single point: we must stop with the helplessness and excuses. It is hard, but it needs to be done. I write a column about the loss of transcendence and it is picked up by media outlets and goes viral. I write three columns about how to get out of it, all of which calls for each individual to change the one person they can change…well, that doesn’t get the same response. Complaining is easy…doing is hard. But without the doing, the things we complain about stay or grow.
Life is stressful and very little goes as we hope. The more stressed we get, the more scapegoats we look for. Looking for scapegoats for our behavior is easy, changing ourselves is not. IF we use the actions of others to dictate our own actions, we are left with nothing but complaining.
It has to stop.
God gives you grace to be transformed, but using that grace is challenging. But no one of us can transform the world around us until we are transformed ourselves.
SO, if N90 has taught me anything, it is that we must start with ourselves. WE must move beyond the learned helplessness of complaining and use the grace of God to move forward.
If we wait for the pristine conditions to come, we will remain helpless. God did not create us to be helpless. He wants and expects His sons and daughters to be warriors…effective warriors. That takes training and discipline.
EDIT: I am extending Nineveh 90 to October 13th…Who’s with me?
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