Saturday I served at Funeral for a friend who passed away unexpectedly. He had three sons. Good looking kids. Caused me to remember I had taught the oldest during preparation for Confirmation (15-16 years old) a long time ago. Confirmation is a Sacrament of initiation in the Catholic Church.
I brought to class a 50 lb dumbbell from the local gym. How can I
get these kids to think about what Confirmation is preparing them for?
Note a dumbbell from the local gym comes from the real world. It has a handle that has been soiled with real flesh, skin, sweat and even blood. I asked these kids if they knew what it was used for?
At first silence and finally someone said to build muscle and strength. I asked if anyone willing to demonstrate how to lift it and curl it. To my surprise a young lady bravely stepped forward and grabbed the dumbbell. Promptly it dropped to the floor with a crash. Her willingness to step forward generated silence among many.
It was then, that my friends oldest son quietly stepped forward and to my amazement not only lifted the weight but property curled that 50 lb. dumbbell. Wow I thought, I could curl it but I needed to warm up first.
Next I asked them how long it would take before they could do what this young man did? Well – brave heart – so how does one go about preparing oneself to curl a 50 lb dumbbell?
Consistent repetition, starting at an initial weight one can easily handle and then followed by more consistency gradual working ones way up gradually until ones muscles replicate the action successfully.
But wait a minute – aren’t we talking about Confirmation? Could it be the muscles we are talking about are spiritual. Yet they are no different than the muscles attached to our bodies that we can see. Like so many things in life they built upon the same founding principle == “use it or lose it”.
It we don’t use our muscles they atrophy and we lose strength.
Our spiritual muscles are no different. If we want our spiritual muscles to grow we must make a decision to consistently enter the spiritual gym and begin with lifting spiritual weights that at first can be easily handled. Life is about carrying a cross and sometimes we are called to carry the cross of someone we love. I had an aunt who carried a heavy burden but she was able to lay down her cross so she could pick up the cross of her son who came home to die of AIDS – the symbolic handle of the handle on a dumbbell.
If we don’t use our muscles they atrophy. If we don’t use our mind it will atrophy. If we don’t use our spirit it will atrophy. Then when the day comes and we desperately need strength to handle the weight of the cross that surely will find its way into our life we will have a spirit to call upon that can prevent us from crashing to the floor.