Developing and Following a Spiritual Wellness Program

Developing and Following a Spiritual Wellness Program

By Maurice Blumberg

Then Levi gave a great banquet for Jesus in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” (Luke 5:29-32)

Have you ever heard of something called a wellness program? The idea behind it is to develop a lifestyle that will keep you healthy and make you less vulnerable to illnesses that require a doctor’s attention. A good wellness program will include a balanced diet, regular exercise, the right vitamin supplements, and regular physical checkups.

What does this have to do with Jesus’ words to the Pharisees and scribes: “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do” (Luke 5:31). Because he consorted with prostitutes and other obvious sinners, Levi was himself probably spiritually “sick.” So it was only natural that Jesus, the divine Physician, would reach out to him.

Not all of Jesus’ disciples were in such bad shape. Andrew, for instance, was a devoted follower of John the Baptist before he met Jesus. And James and John were probably hardworking fishermen, devoted family men, and faithful Jews. Most likely, these men were in decent shape spiritually. But they followed Jesus because they recognized how much his spiritual medicine could help them live even fuller, healthier lives.

How healthy are you spiritually as a Catholic man? During Lent many of us implemented what could be called a spiritual wellness program based on the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. However, now that Lent is over we may now have gone back to our old ways of thinking and acting, and old habit patterns. You may not fall into the “major sinner” category that would apply to someone like Levi, so you may not need radical surgery. But what about those nagging aches and pains caused by anxiety, “minor” resentments, or “small” offenses against God’s commandments? None of us is perfectly healthy. We all need Jesus’ healing touch in one way or another. And that’s why we all should follow a spiritual wellness program every day of the year, not just during Lent.

What would a spiritual wellness program look like? Such a program can take on many forms. Below is a simple four-step approach to establishing a spiritual wellness program:

  1. Instead of vitamins, we follow a daily regimen of prayer and Scripture reading to give us the energy we need to stay focused on the Lord.
  2. Instead of physical exercise, the program includes the exercise of our wills to let in all that is good and reject all that is bad. To further strengthen and purify our wills, we do a daily examination of conscience – reviewing our day and repenting of any sins we may have committed.
  3. Instead of a healthy diet, we make sure we have a steady diet of the Sacraments, including receiving the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist to keep us filled with Jesus’ life and experiencing the reconciling power of Jesus’ forgiveness in Confession.
  4. Instead of regular physical checkups, we stay connected to brothers in Christ in the church through small parish-based men’s groups, where we can support one another and pray for one another.

These are fairly simple steps to take. But remember, it’s not all about us, it’s all about Jesus. He is our divine physician and healer. So why not join his wellness center, and start your spiritual wellness program today? You’ll be glad you did.

“Lord Jesus, you are the great physician of my soul. I want to follow you and live a life pleasing to you. Heal me and transform me in your love, so that I may live life to the fullest as your disciple.”

Maurice Blumberg was the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), and is currently a Trustee. He is also the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry to the Military and Prisoners for The Word Among Us. Maurice can be contacted at mblumberg@aol.org.)

[Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/) for allowing me to adapt some material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]

Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men

1. The Pharisees and scribes probably felt they were righteous enough not to need the healing and forgiveness that Jesus was offering to them. What about you? Do you still need more of Jesus’ ongoing healing and forgiveness? Why or why not?

2. One of the questions in the article is: How healthy are you spiritually as a Catholic man? How would you answer this question?

3. The article goes on to describe a four-step spiritual wellness program. Are their parts of this program you are already implementing? Which ones? Are their parts of the program you have not implemented? Are you willing to include them in your spiritual wellness program? Why or why not?

4. Are their additional steps you want to add to your program? What are they?

5. If you are in a men’s group try implementing the four-step program outlined in the article, or your own modified one. Share the fruit of doing this at your next men’s group meeting.

Also, if you are in a men’s group, take some time at the end of your meeting to pray for one another that each of you would be open to Jesus’ healing and transforming touch as you implement and follow your spiritual wellness program.

This article is part of NFCM's sponsorship of the Catholic Man channel. Contact NFCM at PO Box 8540, Waco, TX 76714 or e-mail them at info@nfcmusa.org. If you would like to make a contribution to the NFCM, click here.


Do You Believe Jesus Wants to Heal You?

Do You Believe Jesus Wants to Heal You?

By Maurice Blumberg

While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him (Luke 5:12-13).

Have you ever thought about why the leper’s first words to Jesus were: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Another translation uses the words “If you wish?” It seems to me that by using these words, the leper wasn’t sure if Jesus really wanted to heal him. It seems to me also that he was giving him the option not to heal him.

Why was this so? First of all leprosy is highly contagious, secondly he was considered to be ritually unclean. He was forced to live in a leper colony populated only by people with the same frightful disease. isolated from other people. In fact, when a leper approached anyone they had to shout “Unclean, unclean.” So although he seemed to have the faith to believe that Jesus could heal him, it is not surprising, because of his own sense of unworthiness, that he was not sure Jesus would want to heal him. How wonderful was Jesus’ response. “I am willing” and he healed him.

Well, fortunately none of us have leprosy, but much like leprosy our sins can make us feel unclean and unworthy, especially when we are asking for healing for ourselves or others. They can tell us that change is impossible. They can shape the way we look at ourselves and even the way we look at and approach God. In other words, our thinking can be like that of the leper. Perhaps, there are times when we do think that way, but when we do it is because we are forgetting what our Heavenly Father and Jesus are really like and how they view us.

They love us unconditionally. We know that God the Father gave up his only Son to free us from sin and make us whole. Every time we look at the cross, we can see how much our Lord values us. We can be filled with hope that when we cry out to the Lord he hears us. We have great dignity! And that means that we have a future! It means that we can rise above any sense of shame or guilt or unworthiness that holds us down when we come to the Lord for forgiveness and wholeness.

No matter what your state is right now, no matter what your circumstances are, we have these great promises from God:

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Are you ready to confidently approach the throne of grace with your needs? Are you ready to believe that Jesus not only can heal you, but that he also wants to heal you? Here’s an experiment to try this week. During a time of prayer, picture yourself coming to Jesus as the leper did. Offer him whatever is burdening you, and ask him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can heal me.” Then stay there, looking at Jesus and letting him look at you. Quiet your heart and mind until you hear Jesus say back to you, “I do will it. Be healed.”

Don’t let this experiment stop with this week. We are beloved sons of our Heavenly Father. Let’s continue to confidently approach the Lord’s throne of grace, and with expectant faith, present our needs to him.

Maurice Blumberg is a Trustee of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.catholicmensresources.org//) and Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry to Servicemen and Prisoners for The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/).


[Many thanks to The Word Among Us for allowing us to adapt material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]

Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men

  • 1. The title of this article is “Do You Believe Jesus Wants to Heal You?” How would you answer this question?
  • 2. Why do you think the leper qualified his crying out to Jesus with “If you are willing?” In what way are you like the leper? How are you different?
  • 3. Why is sin often compared to the disease of leprosy, when it comes to its impact on our spiritual health?
  • 4. The article goes on to say that when we allow our sins to keep us from approaching the Lord with expectant faith, it is because “we are forgetting what our Heavenly Father and Jesus are really like and how they view us.” Do you agree with this? Why or why not?
  • 5. Do you view God the Father and Jesus as “cops in the sky” ready to pour out their wrath on us every time we sin or screw up, or as a loving Father and a merciful Savior ready to forgive and heal us every time we come to them? Why is having the right understanding of the character of God so important? Why is belief in the promises of Ephesians 3:12 and Hebrews 4:16 also important as well?
  • 6. If you are willing, try the experiment described in the article and share the results of it with another brother in Christ. If you are in a men’s group, share the results at your next meeting.
This article is part of NFCM's sponsorship of the Catholic Man channel. Contact NFCM at PO Box 8540, Waco, TX 76714 or e-mail them at info@nfcmusa.org. If you would like to make a contribution to the NFCM, click here.


Real Men Pray the Rosary

Real Men Pray the Rosary
Contemporary Catholics Retool Rosary
By Ana Campoy

MCALLEN, Texas, Apr. 9, 2010 (http://online.wsj.com) — For years David Calvillo ignored his mother's pleas to pray the rosary, a thing he associated with old ladies and funerals.

Then he was handed a wooden-bead rosary at a religious retreat, where he prayed it among a chorus of 79 other men. After going through the 59 beads, he was impressed by the connection he felt with his fellow attendants, his mother and God, he says.

Now he's trying to sell others on the rosary's "power and strength," creating an online group called "Real Men Pray the Rosary." Its logo: A raised fist with a rosary dangling between clenched fingers.

"I'm a child of the '70s," said the mustachioed 49-year-old lawyer, alluding to the raised-fist salute of that era's Black Power movement. "I thought that would convey the right message."

Catholics, who will celebrate Easter this Sunday along with other Christians world-wide, have been saying the rosary for centuries. The necklace-like string of 59 beads represents a cycle of prayers—53 Hail Marys and six Our Fathers. As modern-day Catholics discover the rosary anew they are also updating the instrument and creating a market for nontraditional interpretations.

The basic concept, using beads to keep track of prayers, remains the same, but some rosaries are taking a decidedly contemporary form. There are several rosary iPhone applications; one lets users slide virtual beads on the screen.

Rosary manufacturers are offering a variety of novelty models, in many cases aimed specifically at men. One new model has football-shaped beads to encourage boys reluctant to sit through a litany of prayers. For other tastes there are rosary bracelets with peace signs.

While Catholics modernize rosary use, other Christian denominations are also looking for ways to make praying more accessible and relevant, from adopting different postures to revisiting repetitive reciting, experts say.

"Too often there's been a sense that your spiritual life is separate from your regular life," said Kurt Fredrickson, an associate dean at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. "All of these practices are ways to actually use your body and your surroundings as part of your prayer."

Saying the rosary is a form of meditation on the life of Christ through devotion to the Virgin Mary. It is said to have been started by St. Dominic in the 13th century. Several popes have promoted its use, most recently Benedict XVI, who has said the rosary "is not a pious practice banished to the past, like prayers of other times thought of with nostalgia. Instead, the Rosary is experiencing a new springtime."

Monsignor Anthony F. Sherman, executive director of the Secretariat of Divine Worship of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, welcomes the new forms of the rosary as long as they help Catholics think about how Jesus's teachings apply to their lives.

"If all these things lead to the heart of what the rosary is about, then praise be God; if they become a distraction that is another issue," he said.

Alan Bedard, president of Creed Rosary Manufacturing Co., of Wrentham, Mass., says overall rosary sales are up. A growing number of the company's clients are prayer groups that order customized models.

Some of Mr. Bedard's rosaries are made of gold and can sell for thousands of dollars. On the other end of the spectrum is Rosary Army, a group that teaches how to make a rosary by knotting nylon twine. Founder Greg Willits calls the rosary "a weapon of spiritual warfare" to keep men on the right path in a world full of temptations. During Lent, the Atlanta-based group has collected 5,000 nylon rosaries from members to be given away to selected individuals, rather than in bulk.

In Mission, Texas, in the Rio Grande valley, David Lerma started a group called Prayer Warriors that local Catholics commission for rosary-prayer sessions. Every Tuesday and Thursday, Mr. Lerma, a 46-year-old who drives a pickup truck and favors camouflage gear, goes to a different house with an oversized rosary made of rose petals encased in acrylic.

Mr. Calvillo, the McAllen lawyer, sometimes prays with the Prayer Warriors, but his main focus is on his "Real Men Pray the Rosary" Facebook page, where he has amassed more than 6,000 friends, including one who uses a rosary fashioned out of ball bearings.

View this article in ParishWorld.net


"Behold, your mother."

"Behold, your mother."

John 19:26-27 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son." 27 Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

The last gift Jesus gave to us, His mother. Have you accepted this gift from Him? Mary doesn't distract us from Jesus, she leads us to Him. As Mary says in Luke 1:46 "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;" Mary only wants us to love her son as she does. On this Good Friday, let us thank the Lord for His sacrifice on the cross for our sins. Let us also thanks Him for leaving us one more gift, our Mother Mary. May we look to her to always lead us to her Son, our Lord Jesus!