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Monday, June 20, 2016

Tuesday, June 21, 2016 Saint Aloysius Gonzaga/International Yoga Day

Luke, Chapter 12, Verse 32
Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.

Today is the feast of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga who demonstrates for us how he was not afraid to lose everything to gain the kingdom. While still young he read the lives of saintly Jesuit missionaries, and he decided to become a Jesuit. His father and some other relatives tried hard to change his mind. It was a fierce battle of wills, but after several years, Aloysius won. With his father's permission, Aloysius gave his large inheritance to his brother and joined the Jesuit order at 17 years of age. The novice director, who was in charge of training Aloysius, told him to cut down on his long hours of prayer and to give up some of his fasting and other penances. Aloysius obeyed willingly. He understood that obedience was better than “doing his own thing.” When Aloysius was 23, a serious epidemic broke out in Rome. Aloysius volunteered at once to help in the hospital. At that time hospitals were not the clean, orderly places with which we are familiar today. It was very easy to catch an illness. That is what happened; Aloysius became very ill. No medicine could help him. Aloysius was not afraid to die. Aloysius shows that young people are not too young to become saints. During his life he had focused on doing what God wanted—serving and loving God and his neighbor.[1]

International Yoga Day

International Yoga Day celebrates yoga, an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice. Today, yoga, which originated in India, is one of the world's most popular pastime activities. In September of 2014, India’s Prime Minister proposed the establishment of an International Day of Yoga to promote international peace and cooperation. His request was granted by the United Nations General Assembly in December, 2014 in an effort to highlight the benefits of yoga to physical well-being and to world peace and development.

In a recent homily, Pope Francis reminded listeners that practices like yoga aren't capable of opening our hearts up to God. "You can take a million catechetical courses, a million courses in spirituality, a million courses in yoga, Zen and all these things. But all of this will never be able to give you. freedom," he explained. While yoga was just one example offered among many, the Holy Father touched on a matter of great debate among faithful Catholics who happen to prefer this kind of exercise.[2]


Can Catholics participate in yoga? The answer is a bit more nuanced than one might think. Catholics should not participate in any of the "spiritual" aspects associated with yoga, but technically can do the actual physical exercises. However, many people who practice yoga caution that it is often difficult, if not impossible, to separate the exercises from the meditations. For example, a common mantra repeated in yoga is "So'ham" that roughly translates to "I am the universal self". This focus on the self is contrary to the focus on God to which we are called. In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: "Christian prayer... flees from impersonal techniques or from concentrating on oneself, which can create a kind of rut, imprisoning the person praying in a spiritual privatism which is incapable of a free openness to the transcendental God" The Pope tells us that only the Holy Spirit can "move the heart" and make it "docile to the Lord, docile to the freedom of love". If we are seeking a zen-like peace from yoga meditation, then we are seeking peace from the wrong source.

But is it possible to combine exercise and prayer? Founders of SoulCore, a core workout that combines isometric exercises with praying the rosary, say that it is. Deanne Miller and Colleen Scariano explained that their new exercise movement is born from the desire to nourish both body and soul through exercise. Miller referenced the inspiration for the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, which is St. Irenaeus's quote that "the glory of God is man fully alive". "In other words", Miller explained, "in our physical movement, when tied to prayer-strengthening from the inside-out-we are FULLY ALIVE." www.soulcoreproject.com



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