Why We Need a Church
From a site that I stumbled across and promptly lost.
Quote:Catholicism & Running Groups
theophilus September 7th, 2009

I am a Catholic and a runner, and I”m starting to see some similarities between the two.

I was six months into my forties when I issued myself a challenge – to run a half-marathon.  It didn’t matter that I had never run more than a mile at a time, ever.  I was struggling with being 40 and I decided I needed something to help me forget how fast my life was accelerating.

That was a couple of years ago.  It didn’t take long for me to catch the running bug (or addiction, as my wife calls it).

Now, after a handful of half-marathons, I’ve decided to step it up and try a full marathon this November.

In the past, I’ve always trained alone.  Unfortunately, it’s too often the way I undertake the challenges in my life, alone.  But this attempt at a full is going to be the third time I’ve committed to one, and the other two times I backed out.

So, to help with my training this time, I’ve joined a running group put together by a local running store.  Twice a week, 20-40 runners each time, all ages, all levels of ability.

And I’ve noticed that my mileage for each run has increased, my pace has improved dramatically, and my body is starting to look better than it did in my twenties.  I’m pushing myself harder and harder.  I’m not skimping on my runs.  There are no more excuses.  I’m persevering through more adversity because there is no give up when you’re running with others.

The best part of running groups is that there is always someone to chase, always someone to push you from behind.  Even on long runs (the other day was 16 miles), when I may lose contact with other runners, I know there is someone ahead of me and someone behind me, somewhere.  And that thought keeps me running.  There’s an accountability, a comradeship, a commonality, a connection, a universality . . .

a catholicism.

There is really only one way to run, putting one foot down and then the other.  There is really only one goal in running, to finish the run you’re on.  Whether you’re going it alone or in a running group, I have finally realized that there are hundreds of thousands of runners throughout the world, hitting the pavement or the treadmill at that moment in time, doing exactly what you are doing, putting one foot down and then the other, pushing to finish the run.

You know that the world-class athletes are out, and so are the plodders.  Every Saturday, there is a race somewhere with runners pushing themselves to their best, connecting to something deep inside of them.

Runners each run for their own reasons.  Some are running to something; some are running away from something.  Some are running because that is just what they have always done.

But for whatever reason you run, you eventually figure out that you do not run alone.  Even in the darkest hours of the dawn, you know there is someone else out, heart rate up, mind clearing out the sleep, ears listening to the wonderful sounds of the cadence of their footfall.

Sitting in Mass yesterday, I realized that our parish and Church are a lot like running.  Every Sunday, we know there are millions of Catholics throughout the world who are celebrating pretty much the exact Mass with the same readings and prayers.  While there are variations, the Mass is essentially the same throughout the world.  Christ is present in the consecration in every Mass, in every tabernacle, in the world.

We also know that no matter when we pray our traditional prayers, we know there is someone else somewhere in the world praying those prayers – the Hail Mary, the Our Father, the Glory Be.  When we profess the Creed, it is the same Creed, the same profession of our faith everywhere in the world.  Whether it’s the modest St. Joseph’s in rural Ohio or the Notre Dame, two strangers from the farthest reaches of the world can pull out their Rosaries and begin to pray together.

No matter our wealth, intelligence, job status, or achievements, we are all equal in the eyes of Christ and have a rightful place in front of his altar.  No matter our failings and sins, his home is our home and we are invited into it, wherever we are in the world.  Redemption, salvation, grace, consolation, healing, subsistence are available to each of us in the fullest of measure.

In the Church, we are never alone.  In Christ, we are united to our brothers and sisters, living and dead, in the faith.  We pray for them, knowing they are praying for us.  We may worship with them in community, or worship in the silence of our hearts and homes, but we are still worshiping together.  Our voice is a common, united, Catholic voice carrying itself to the eternal reaches of heaven.

In running, you are never alone, even though it may be the most solitary of sports.  In the Church, we are never alone, even in the deepest solitude of our worship, devotion and prayer.

That is one of the majestic mysteries of our faith; that is one of the enduring truths of  the Catholic Church.

In the Church, we are never alone.  There are a billion others in this with us, putting one foot down and then the other, trying to finish their run.
Here ya go! :)


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