By Ron Pereira
Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war… (Psalm 144).
On Ash Wednesday I, along with 3 Brothers in Christ, officially entered into a spiritual battle with the evil one.
Yes, Lent began and we’re definitely committed to all that entails. But, in addition to our Lenten sacrifices my brothers and I also began a 90-day ascetic program called Exodus.
Exodus was created by the good folks over at Those Catholic Men which, I might add, is one of the best Catholic men’s websites around.
To be sure, Exodus is a program meant to deliver men from sin… especially sins of the flesh. But, even if you don’t struggle with this aspect of your life chances are very good you struggle with others.
Let’s start with your cell phone. How addicted are you to that little device? Have you ever found yourself more interested in it than your own wife or children? I have. And you know what… this is not only unacceptable it’s sinful.
What about other electronics including, yes, I’m about to go there… your beautiful wide screen TV? Could you give it up for 90 days? Could you make it through 90 days without watching televised sports if it deepened your relationship with Christ?
What about your health? Are you taking care of yourself and setting a good example for your children with respect to nutrition and exercise? And, yes, I know… you’ve started your annual Lenten diet and boot camp. Will you keep it up once Easter has come and gone?
How about alcohol? Has it ever caused an argument with your wife or negatively impacted other areas of your life? Have you ever put your kids in danger because you drove them around after having a few since, you know, it was only a little buzz?
Now, I could go on and on with other examples such as being slaves to our jobs and placing far too much importance on things like college football… but I won’t.
You see, in the end, our materialistic world has made most men soft, comfortable, and lazy. And this comfort often leads directly to mortal sin.
What is Exodus?
So, if you recognize, like my brothers and I recognized, that you need to break free from sinful behaviors the first thing you must come to grips with is you can’t do it on your own.
I don’t care how physically strong you are. I don’t care how rich you are. I don’t care how smart you think you are or how many Philosophy degrees you have. We, as individual men, cannot defeat the devil. Instead, only God can deliver us from sin.
The problem is most of us are too proud, stubborn, or scared to allow God to deliver us from the evil one. And this is precisely what Exodus is designed to help with.
My Experience So Far
Now, we’re only a week into the program but I can already tell you this is like nothing I’ve attempted before.
I don’t feel it’s appropriate to get into all of the disciplines of Exodus. But what I will say is my brothers and I have agreed to the following disciplines for 90 days:
- We won’t drink alcohol
- We won’t use the Internet unless it’s work related (or Intentional Encounter related for me and Mike)
- We won’t watch TV… including televised sports
- We won’t eat sweets of any kind including drink sweetener (even Stevia!)
- We will only take lukewarm to cold showers
And if any us “fall to sin” or fail to follow any of the agreed disciplines (there are many more I haven’t shared) we have all agreed to reset, and restart the 90 days. Radical? You bet. But mortal sin isn’t easily conquered so we’ve officially embraced the grind and look forward to the struggle and sacrifice.
We’re meeting as a group one time per week to discuss how things are going. To be clear, this is not a meeting where we sit around holding hands singing hymns. We get right to the point… during our first meeting, this past Saturday, we discussed what the “mortar” in our lives was. In other words, we discussed what we each hope to break free from, once and for all, as a result of this 90-day Exodus.
Once the meeting was done Mike lead us through an awesome CrossFit workout.
We also check in with each other once per day to ensure everything is OK.
And, we’ve also received support from our amazing Pastor who has agreed to meet with us every 4 to 6 weeks for spiritual guidance and direction. He has also agreed to pray for us daily which we’re most definitely going to need.
Want to Learn More?
To be sure, there’s much more to the program and I’d definitely be willing to share more details by email or phone. So just contact me if you’re interested in learning more.
Here are some helpful links, and articles, if you’d like to learn more about the Exodus program.
It begins when you start shivering.
You feel more uncomfortable than you can ever remember. Cold penetrates all over your body. Never in your life can you remember feeling this cold and there is no escape from it. Very soon, you may begin to worry: the cold is incredible… and you begin to notice it is becoming hard to breath. Soon you are not thinking at all and feel clumsy and dazed. You struggle to unzip your coat, not knowing why, and not noticing how difficult it is to move your hands.
Asceticism is the spiritual discipline whereby a man practices self-denial, self- restraint and self-mortification, and, for those who desire greater growth, a more rigorous self-denial, more extreme abstinence, and increased austerity
Almost universally, the first men to attempt Exodus were completely astounded at how “enslaved” they were to their passions (desires or appetites). Rarely, especially as men, do we ever see the need to deny anything to ourselves; we take and use to our own advantage nearly anything we want. This can be lethal!
Our proposal to launch Exodus was met with a good amount of doubt and negativity. It made us pause and think.
We were told:
- Men cannot handle the discipline, they do not have time;
- The program should be for priests and monks, not married people;
- Men do not know how to fast, pray, and do penance;
- Men will not abstain from alcohol or video games or hot showers;
- Modern men are disconnected and apathetic, Exodus is too intense.
The criticism was sharp, quick, sometimes sarcastic, and the message was clear: stop what you are doing, put it away, there is no place for this machismo non-sense in the Church. And the Church wonders why men are visibly absent from the pews.
There are many reasons we decided to charge a minimal amount for Exodus. The first is that with a financial investment comes increased accountability to follow through on a commitment. Simply: We want to challenge men to take action! And one way to do that is by requiring a buy-in. That being said, if you cannot afford the investment, let us know, and we will gladly accommodate your needs.
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