Issue 10 | The Gospel Truth


The Long Run


True humility lies not in thinking less of ourselves, but in thinking of ourselves less.


-CS Lewis

As many of you may know, I am a teacher. At the end of every year my students fill out at course evaluation which I then read at the close of the year. Year over year, the evaluations are generally positive and those things my students mark as frustrating or less than desirable very rarely come as a surprise. Without fail, though, there is always one scathing and overly personal evaluation of my course. Logically, I know what an outlier is and I know that weighed against the overwhelmingly large number of positive reviews that one negative rant is not an accurate review of the year. Logically, I know this. But, it should come as surprise to none that that one review is what sticks into my brain like a splinter.


Likewise, I know I am a good runner. I have pretty decent PRs and I run with consistency. I eat well and never back down from a big workout. That being said, I can run well for 5 days and have one or two bad reps during a track session and those are going to stick with me. Again, logically I know that I am in good shape. I know I'm progressing. But all it takes is one bad morning to feel like I'm just wasting my time and that I'll never improve.



Friends, this is the Evil One at work. Maybe you have experienced this as well. I haven't been able to shake it entirely, but what has helped in these moments of crisis is reminding myself that (A) my worth comes from my identity as a Son of God and (B) times and evals do no measure how good of a teacher and runner I am.


The Devil loves to prey on these little cracks in our confidence and tries to convince us that the problem we are having or that emotion of disappointed is strictly our own. No one else feels this way and that's because you really are a terrible teacher and you really are wasting your time out there every morning. He is, of course, the Prince of Lies. This is something so many of us experience so perhaps it helps to be reminded that even the most confident runners and teachers suffer from feeling inadequate.


God loves us for who we are though, not what we do, how fast we run, or what a course eval says. I need to do a better job remembering that myself.

Quick Thoughts

A few quick thoughts on happenings in the world of running and the Church


Querida Amazonia, The Post-Synodal Exhortation

The Gospel reveals "a God who infinitely loves every man and woman and has revealed this love fully in Jesus Christ, crucified for us and risen in our lives" (64).

I honestly thought this was going to be a slower week. After writing so much about the World Athletics rulings, the Nike/Oregon Distance Project doping, the Cardinal Sarah book, I thought that this would be a quieter week where I would need to find funny things on Twitter to write about. Needless to say, Cardinal Czerny had other ideas.


Earlier this week Pope Francis released his Apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia. In short, the document calls for greater cultural awareness and appreciation in our evangelizing efforts. (To be honest, not too far off from Paul VI's Evangelii Nuntiandi). The overall message of the document appears to be that all of us have a right to hear the Gospel proclaimed to us and, as people who live within a given culture, must then hear that Gospel proclaimed through - not counter - that same culture. Recognizing the shortcoming that cultures can have, the Pope nevertheless encourages the Church to probe more deeply into Her call to preach the Gospel to a richly diverse Church, particularly to the Amazon region.


Now, if you're reading this and thinking to yourself, That's great and all, but I thought this was going to be about married priests...you have our click-bait 24 hour newscycle to wag a finger at. The Holy Father does mention the importance of the Holy Sacrament and how the role of priest is conformed to the order of Christ. The Pope goes on to say how it is, in fact, the hierarchical role of the priest to offer the Eucharist at liturgy and how that duty is alone reserved for the priest. He speaks strongly of the need for more priests in the Amazon region so that the people may more readily receive the Blessed Sacrament. The Synod and the exhortation that followed was never about married priests.


During the Synod itself, there was a discussion concerning married priests and in the final document, the suggestion that the Holy Father investigate the possibility of allowing men in the Amazon region already married to be ordained, while receiving the highest vote total against it, was adopted into the final version. All this to say, while the conversation surrounding married priests generated headlines and heated lunch table conversations (or maybe that was just my experience...) this entire enterprise is and has been from its inception about serving the people of the Amazon region and that, dear friends, is what the Holy Father wants to Church to focus on.


So what can we take away from this? I think I see a few items:

1. Read your primary documents. There are a lot of opinions and hot takes out there. Some paint a relatively neutral picture of events, others (in full disclosure, like this one) offer an opinion-based look at an event and still others spin events to fit their agenda. Certainly, give a read and see what others have to say when forming your own opinion (I certainly did, some articles leaving me more frustrated than others) but get into the primary sources and read the text yourself. It's a lengthy document, but it's written in accessible language. So go ahead, sit with it a while and see what speaks to you. (After all, my take on all this, is just that, my take.)


2. There are many parts...there is one body. Here is the both/and of the Catholic Church: We need to appreciate and respect the cultural reality of peoples whose culture may be vastly different than our own. In practice, celebration, dress and worship, we need to see the outward manifestation of culture as particular to a given people and not necessarily better or worse than our own. AND we must see that the ultimate goal of culture is to drawn us closer to God and unite us more fully to the Church.


3. It's about the people. Ironically, in the news articles expressing frustration over the lack of married priests cite how this disregards the needs of the people of the region. At the same time, those same articles devote significantly more bandwidth to what was not included in the Post-Synodal document than what actually was.


4. Culture and Holiness. We can consider our own culture. How do we use our culture, in workplaces, communities, the nation, to share the Gospel?


5. We need priests. "That is his great power, a power that can only be received in the sacrament of Holy Orders. For this reason, only the priest can say: “This is my body”. There are other words too, that he alone can speak: “I absolve you from your sins”. Because sacramental forgiveness is at the service of a worthy celebration of the Eucharist. These two sacraments lie at the heart of the priest’s exclusive identity" (QA, 88). Whether in the Amazon or a parish with its own Amazon account, we absolutely need priests. So what to do? Instead of changing the ministry or allowing the laity to preside over the Eucharist (a function, according the Pope, that is non-delegable) we must voraciously promote and encourage young people to answer God's call. And how do we do that? Well, we use out culture to proclaim the Gospel. After all, that's what this whole thing has been about.


There is much more to say about the Synod, the Exhortation, and the newsbriefs that have happened since, but for now, I'll leave it here: the Eucharist is the "source and summit of the whole of Christian life" (CCC 1234, LG 11), and everything we do must be directed to it. If we recognize the need for the people of the Amazon to more readily receive the Blessed Sacrament, do we likewise recognize and live out our own?


Woe to You, Scribes and Phariess, Hypocrites!

I don't know if Jesus was referring to USA Track and Field in Matthew 23, those who have ears might listen. The Olympic standard for women is 2:45:00, which means, if you can run a marathon in 2 hours, 45 minutes or less, you should be able to run at the Olympic Trials. So riddle me this: if Erin Gregoire ran a 2:42:55 at the Houston Marathon, why is she being denied entry into the trials?


Erin's chip time was 2:42:55 but her gun time was 2:54:54. What does that mean? Because it was her first marathon, she was not given entry into coral A (in large races, they send the athletes out in waves to prevent over congestion), that meant that when the race went off, she was still held in coral B. So her gun time (when the race actually began) and her chip time (when she actually began) are different. Why is that important? Because USATF required a qualifying gun time, not chip time.


As of right now, USATF is not allowing Erin to run. You brood of vipers, you den of thieves. Seriously, what end is upholding a clearly faulty rule actually serve?



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Team News

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Lent Reflection Program

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Every morning you'll receive an email with a short program for the day. A reading, a prayer, a brief reflection, and a challenge will be delivered right to your inbox. Every morning you will have to opportunity to choose greatness by committing to the Lenten practices of fasting, conversion, repentance, and prayer.

We hope you will join us!

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Upcoming Saints

A Saint, Memorial, or Feast of the Week


St. Peter Damian

February 21


St. Peter Damian is an example of how personal holiness, conviction for the Church, intellectual curiosity, and care for the poor are not mutually exclusive. In fact, St. Peter Damian's example should show us that a deep love of the Church should lead us to caring for the poor and if we are truly intellectually honest we will be lead to the ultimate Truth.


Perhaps this week, we can consider how we use our own intellect. How often to I seek to elevate my own status rather than serve those in need? How often do I look for what interests me rather than the good of the Church?


St. Peter Damian was humble in his service to the Church and the poorly, but honest in his talents. He knew he was a brilliant writer but always offered his brilliance to God and His Church. How might we do the same?

Prayer

A prayer or habit to take with you this week.


Ugh. What am I doing for Lent? If there is an Ash Wednesday, and a Fat Tuesday, there must certainly be an "Oh crap I forgot" Monday. Don't let Lent sneak up on you this year.


This week, take some time to pray about how you can grow in holiness. Let's enter the season of Lent prepared and open to the Graces of the Spirit.

Sign Off

Alright friends, thanks for sticking with it this week. There was a lot to digest so if you made it this far, thank you.


I want to offer a special shout out to everyone who is supporting this ministry on Patreon. As I mentioned earlier, we are offering a Lenten Reflection program and thanks to the generous support of Frassati Running patrons, this program will be offered at no cost. So thank you to everyone who is supporting this humble ministry - you will certainly be in my prayers again this week!



Verso l'alto,

Patrick