Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I have this app – maybe you’ve heard of it:  MyFitnessPal.  It’s amazing:  it counts my calories, logs my exercise (and thus calories burned), calculates recipe data, charts the weight I lose (or gain) over 30, 60 or 90 days… It even gives me helpful encouragement, as in, "You burned 322 calories on your elliptical trainer today."  I love it.

Maybe what I really need, though, is MySpiritualFitnessApp – doesn’t that sound useful?  Something to make me accountable for my effort in maintaining the Relationship. You know the one.  MySpiritualFitnessPal could chart things like:

 -- how many times I went to Mass this week;
 -- how much time I spent reading Scripture;
 -- how much time I spent pouring my heart out to God (with a built-in timer, ready, set, go, to clock me?);
 -- the number of minutes I spent sitting waiting for God to talk to me (ready, set, go, way harder -- maybe I also need a built-in white noise app to shut out the outside world while I wait, as always, eyes closed and something less than patient?);
 -- the number of minutes God actually did talk to me (ready, set, go, third time’s a charm);
 -- the number of times I remembered to say grace in a given day;
 -- the number of times God surprised me during the day;
 -- how much time (and money) I gave to charitable causes;
 -- whether I did my evening examen (check one:  yes, no, or I tried, really, I tried);
 -- how many decades of the rosary I managed to say before falling asleep…

Plus, it could have direct e-connections to my prayer partners, with a special speed dial to my spiritual director and another to my pastor's office.  And a link to the Vatican website, plus USCCB and America Magazine, PopeAlert, and (just for fun) a special box that lights up whenever Fr. Jim Martin is on The Colbert Report.

And I’m sure I’m forgetting things.  But then again, as important as all of these are, and they are, are any or all of them a true measure of my spiritual fitness?  What is spiritual fitness, anyway?  Am I on the wrong track here?  Should I be striving to be accountable in all these ways or not?  For all that this sounds like a playful musing, I am serious and truly do feel the need to pay attention my efforts, and wish I could gauge my progress somehow... 

On the other hand, maybe that app I need is one that’s built right in, a ‘program’ my own body uploads to daily, whether I know it or not.  Maybe the ‘app’ I need is simply my own open heart?   But I’m not sure how to measure an open heart -- it's not exactly a quantifiable entity.  Plus, unlike physical fitness, where we (most of us) are striving to lose weight, spiritual fitness is all about gain, and the more, the better – gaining compassion and kindness and mercy, gaining blessings so that we can, in turn, share them, be blessings.  Maybe we can only ‘measure’ our own spiritual fitness in terms of Other, in the love we give and the lives we touch.  It's all so intangible, though.  No numbers, no calculations.  I don’t think my iPad is up for the challenge, but maybe -- maybe? -- my heart is.  I hope it's enough.

Do you have/need a "spiritual fitness pal"?  Or suggestions for one who is searching?  I'd love to hear from you.

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