via Catholic Stand
by Gabriel Garnica
Christ warned us that following Him is heavy lifting, but that the ultimate prize of eternal salvation is worth the effort. Apparently, fewer and fewer people want to do heavy lifting, either in church or at the gym because, in case you have not noticed, gyms and churches suffer from the same problem of missing “members”.
According to general statistics, somewhere between 67% to 80% of people who sign up for gym memberships end up never going regularly, if at all. Likewise, statistics tell us that similar percentages of Catholics do not attend Mass regularly, if they go at all. Just as loads of people show up in gyms around New Year’s eager and ready to trim and shape up their physical body, only to slack off and disappear the rest of the year, so too, loads of Catholics slide into the pews on Easter Sunday, only to slack off and disappear for the rest of the year as well.
Why do people drag themselves to gyms and churches on a few occasions a year, only to magnify their apathy by not bothering to return? My contention is that, in both cases, there are actually four types of reasons behind this tragic pattern.
The Flash in The Pan
Some people sincerely feel, deep down inside somewhere, that their physical and moral lives need shaping up. They work up the courage and drive to “sign up” for this shaping up by showing up at their local gym or church. However, their motivation to follow through is simply not there. They want the quick fix, the easy ride, or the notion of taking charge more than the long-term, persistent, and blood and sweat reality of following through on their initial drive.
Physical and moral health is not a television sitcom or glitzy pill ad, where problems melt away without ups and downs. If Christ showed us anything, it is that following His example is not for the squeamish, lazy, or inconsistent. This society, however, with its video game and digital mentality, has turned instant results and quick solutions into a religion itself, leaving patient persistence, integrity, personal responsibility, and proactive determination in the dust.
The Virtual Member
Some people like being a “member” of a gym or parish as a social feather in the cap or as some flimsy token of connection and involvement, but, when push comes to shove, they are more interested in the title “member” than the requirements and demands of membership. After all, it is so much easier to reap the benefits of virtual, make-believe membership than to toil through the rigors of real, day-to-day membership, isn’t it?
The Selfie Sculptor
Many people approach the church or gym with the notion of re-shaping, re-defining, or re-inventing themselves, but only on their terms and convenience. They do not so much want to become better as to become better in their world. Thus, I want to lose weight, but without having to follow tedious exercises or diets. Therefore, I want to improve my prayer life or get closer to God, but without having to being told by anyone what or how to pray or how to bring God more into my life.
You should not tell me what I can and can’t eat any more than you should tell me how to confess my sins, or when I should not partake of the Eucharist. I want to shape my life my way, without a set of rules, menus, or recipes by others.