Issue 11 | Prepare Ye

The Long Run

"The Lord measures out perfection neither by the multitude nor the magnitude of our deeds, but by the manner in which we perform them."

-St. John of the Cross

10 weeks out from a major race, I choose to abstain from certain foods and activities. I'll make a point to get to bed a little earlier, be more conscious of what I'm snacking on between meals and entirely cut out things like fast food and alcohol. Now, in full disclosure, I think that these things, when enjoyed in moderation, can actually have a positive benefit on overall progression. If I were to cut out all sweets from my life indefinitely, that might have an adverse effect on my mood. That being said, once I get down to preparing for my race, I make these particular sacrifices to increase my chances of having a good race. Let me be clear: the goal of abstaining from these items and activities is to increase my chances of having a good race. There is something far greater ordering my food choices other than what's on my plate.

As we prepare to enter the season of Lent, it might be worth reminding ourselves of what were are actually preparing for. Lent is not a fad diet or self-help program. Lent is not a weight-loss challenge or mindfulness exercise. It's not about imposing guilt on ourselves or self-flagellation. We enter into the season of Lent so that we might more fully enter into the season of Easter. The joy of the Risen Christ has to be what guides our Lenten practices.

On April 19 I'll toe the line in Rehoboth Beach and, armed to the teeth with weeks of training and hundreds of miles in my legs, I'll put it all out there and rip the best marathon effort I can. All the choices that I am making now are designed to help me traverse those 26.2 miles as efficiently and confidently as possible. So I swap a Stella for a Seltzer and a bowl of ice cream for a bowl of cereal with the knowledge that those small choices might help me squeeze a few more seconds per mile out of my legs come race day. But it's never about the suds or the sweets - if I decide to eat a candy bar I'm not going to abandon the entire project, I'll just try again the next day.

So when it comes to our Lenten practices, let's try and focus on the Big Day. Maybe you're thinking about giving up candy or alcohol, maybe you want to read more or perhaps develop a habit of prayer. If you mess up a few days in (or maybe a few hours in) don't drop out. Just try again the next day and remember that the journey through the desert is not about the desert anyway, it's about preparing us to more fully celebrate the Joy of the Risen One that awaits us on the other side.

Quick Thoughts

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

Olympic Trials

Well friends, they are almost here. The 2020 USATF Olympic Marathon trials will be held in just a week's time, on February 29th. With a deep field, a challenging course (seriously, though, check out this course preview) and the palace intrigue over Alberto Salazar's doping scandal, this should be one thrilling ride. The top three women and men will earn the honor of representing the Stars and Stripes at this summer's Tokyo Olympic Games. The fields for the men and women are each stacked with a deep field of athletes all making serious bids for podium positions. With it's relentless hills, potential for high temperature and electric crowds, look for smart, gritty runners to own the day. My prediction? Linden, Hall, and Bruce for the women while Fauble, Ward, and Korir capture the spots for the men.

The trials can be watched nationally on NBC with coverage beginning at Noon ET.

Civilize It

Don't talk about politics and religion, amite? Anyway, I get that I'm going 0-2 here, but with Super Tuesday quickly moving upon us, it might be worth reminding ourselves that we are capable of, wait for it, a civilized conversation. If you have't read about it yet, check out Salt and Light's campaign to promote dignified and honest conversations surrounding the 2020 election. Even if the nuance of domestic infrastructure or foreign trade relations are really your cup of tea, here are a few things to consider entering into this tenuous season:

1. Pray for the candidates. Seriously. One of them is going to the president, whether it's the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania or someone else, someone's going to be situated behind the Resolute Desk and is going to be in need of our prayers.

2. Pray for people you disagree with. You know that whole pray for your neighbors bit that Jesus kept going on about? Yeah that means that guy a few cubicles over with the stickers and the slogans that you just CANNOT stand. Try shifting your how can you even think that to help me understand your opinion.

3. Pray for wisdom. If anything is clear it's that the our nation and its issues can be complex. In deciding on candidates, it's often difficult to find just the right one because no one neatly lines up with your ideals. Do you weigh one important position against a few lesser ones? What, if anything, is automatically disqualifying? What if multiple candidates are disqualified that way? This is not easy stuff, but it's important and our duty as Catholics to form our consciences and vote accordingly.

4. Be open to growth. Maybe that guy in the office with you isn't right about everything, but may he has some valid points. Consider another's viewpoint and be open to changing your own.

5. Be convicted in your morals. GK Chesterton said that "The mind, like the mouth, should be open only so that it may close on something solid." In other words, be open, but when it comes to upholding Truth and Dignity, stand firm and be convicted in your beliefs. So how do you tell the difference between items 4 and 5? I would direct your attention back to item 3.

Can I break from my fast on Sunday?

Can and should are two different things. There are prescribed days of Fasting and Abstinence, namely Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and the remaining Fridays of Lent, respectively; this means that on those days Catholics between 18-59 must fast and all Catholics are to abstain from meat. During the remainder of Lent though, it is recommend that Catholics take on an additional form of prayer, fasting, or almsgiving. That being said, this practice is regulated by individual conscience rather than Church doctrine. So can you break you fast on Sunday. Sure. But should you? No.

Consider this: if you are training for a marathon and with only a few weeks to go you have made the wise choice to avoid going out late and eating greasy fast food, taking a "cheat day" once a week is going to have an adverse effect on your progress. In other words, if you decide to give up, say Netflix, for the season of Lent, the efficacy of your fast does not come, per se, in the absence of Netflix (though, I'm sure that has many benefits) the fruits come in your commitment to entering fully into the season of Lent.

So, can you break from your fast on Sunday? Technically, you can break from your fast whenever you want. So, the better question is: is it beneficial to break from your fast on Sunday? The answer is a definitive: no. Go big or go home, right?

Team News

Upcoming events, prayer intentions and other items of note

Lent Reflection Program

Join the Frassati Running Club this Lent in committing to growing in holiness and striving for excellence in all we do. Sign up below for our 2020 Lenten reflection program.

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!

Sign up now - Lent begins February 26.

Get in the Slack conversation.

If you're training for a race (or just to stay healthy) jump into the conversation with our team Slack page. If you have questions about nutrition, stretching, cross training or anything in between, you can ask and answer those questions and more in our private forum.

Upcoming Saints

A Saint, Memorial, or Feast of the Week

Ash Wednesday

February 26

When you pray,

do not be like the hypocrites,

who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners

so that others may see them.

But also...

Brothers and sisters:

We are ambassadors for Christ,

as if God were appealing through us.

The Gospel on Ash Wednesday tells us not to draw attention to ourselves in our fasting...but we literally mark our foreheads with ashes so everyone knows we are fasting. At the same time, we are called to be ambassadors for Christ, that is, it is our obligation to carry forth his message. When reading these in conjunction, we are reminded that our fasting should not be for our own glory but for God's. We shouldn't seek to draw attention to ourselves for our own sake, but to lead others to the joy of the Gospel.


A prayer or habit to take with you this week.

Entering into the season of Lent, I think it helpful to consider the both/and of our humble place in the universe along with the delight the maker of that same universe takes in each of us. What is man you are mindful of him?

Sign Off

Thanks for reading this week friends. Know that, as we enter into the season of Lent this week, you will all be in my prayers.

I want to offer a particular word of thanks to everyone who is supporting this ministry on Patreon. Your support makes resources like the newsletter possible - in particular, though, the generous contribution of supporters has allowed me to run the Lenten reflection program at no cost at all. I've had a lot of fun putting it all together; I hope that you will find it an aid in your own Lenten journey.

Verso l'alto,