The other day I was reading a magazine article on little ideas to improve your health. As I was reading, I realized that the Catholic Church had already implemented that her followers take up these healthy habits a long, long time ago. For example:
There are loads of books available now that say fasting is the new way to lose weight. Our bodies were meant to fast, they claim, just as they had to back when we were hunters and gatherers that had times of plenty (Me kill da big buffalo for you dear) and times of famine (Chew on dis tree bark to curb your hunger). Fasting can help you lose weight and improve your health, say it's supporters. Well do you know who the biggest supporter of fasting is? The Catholic Church!
When people have an inordinate attachment to any physical pleasure, the Church recommends fasting to learn how to control our urges. We fast during Lent to prepare our bodies, hearts, and minds for the amazing things that are about to happen in our liturgical year. Jesus himself fasted for 40 days to prepare Himself for His ministry. We are all about intermittent fasting, yo!
2. No Meat Once a Week.
This one is something I see all the time in magazines about healthier eating. "Just replace your meat meals with vegetarian meals once a week!" "Try Meatless Mondays!" "Be kind to animals!" Their selling points may differ, but meatless enthusiasts claim eating more fruits and veggies and less animal products is better for your body and the earth. Well guess who jumped on the no-meat-train a very long time ago? It's those dern Catholics again! Yup, Catholics should abstain from eating meat on all Fridays as a form of penance to honor Jesus' death on Good Friday. Meatless Mondays? Let's bring back Meatless Fridays.
3. Communication, Talking Things Out.
I have a theory that the rise in popularity of therapists/psychiatrists/psychologists is directly related to the decline of Confession and spiritual direction. We Catholics are so lucky that we can talk to priests about our problems, ask for and receive forgiveness for our sins, and leave feeling like a brand new person. It is so therapeutic to be able to talk to an understanding soul and feel at peace when you are done.
Of course, there are times when a medical doctor is needed in addition to a "spiritual doctor", and we are lucky to have access to both.
4. Treating Yourself.
The Catholic Church isn't all about restrictions and abstinence. Oh no! Do you know how many Feast days we celebrate each year? Me neither because there are so many! Feast days are a great excuse to plan a fancier dinner or bake a sweet dessert. And while doctors are recommending vacations to help people's stress levels, the Fourth Commandment has been telling us to take a day off each week to go to Mass and spend time with loved ones and relax! How's that for treating yourself right?
The Mayo Clinic reports that:
Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for compassion, kindness and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:
- Healthier relationships
- Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
- Less anxiety, stress and hostility
- Lower blood pressure
- Fewer symptoms of depression
- Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse
Jesus himself asked God to forgive his torturers, claiming they knew not what they were doing. And shouldn't we be living in Christ's example? But another reason to forgive others is so that God can forgive us
if when we sin - "And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us".
6. Role Models and Super Heroes.
This is one of my favorite things about the Catholic Church. While the world tries to sell you on Disney actresses as role models that end up being the exact opposite of what you want your daughter to grow up like, the Church teaches us about real men and women with diverse backgrounds and personalities who overcame it all to become Saints.
You want an excellent example of how to live as a career woman and mother? Read about St. Gianna. Do you need inspiration from someone who has led a life of sin but turns it all around? Try St. Augustine. Maybe you need advice from a mom who has watched her child make poor choices but finally wised up? St. Monica's your gal.
Taking from the example of Apple:
Catholics can say "You got problems? We've got a Saint for that!"
7. Having Families.
Did you know that having a spouse makes you healthier? And having children also improves your life? These things can reduce the risks of cancers, increase happiness, help you live longer, etc. Guess who is the biggest supporter of marriage and procreation? Yup, the good old Catholic Church. We're not just trying to take over the world, we're trying to make it a better place ;)
We've all heard that what goes around comes around. The secular world describes it as karma.
The Bible teaches us to "love our neighbor as we love ourselves" which is the Catholic interpretation of karma, I suppose. Whereas karma can be viewed negatively (You just stole my boyfriend! Watch out for that karma!), the Golden Rule is a positive way to live (I won't steal your boyfriend because I don't want anyone taking MY man). See, it's much nicer ;)
Paying off debt is a good thing. It's also a million dollar business for some people who are experts in the field. People are desperate to find ways to save money, pay off debts, and increase their incomes. But, we don't need fancy plans or highly paid speakers to tell us how to live a financially healthy life. All one has to do is read Pope Benedict's Light of the World, where he says that people living in debt are people "living in untruth", or read the hundreds of passages about money in the Bible, or open the Catechism to see what it says about working and earning an income. Work hard, spend wisely, save soundly, and grow in your love of poverty, because God loves the poor!
10. Healthy Sex Lives.
I can't even begin to tell you how many magazine articles I see proclaiming to give all the secrets to an amazing sex life.
And they couldn't be more wrong. They are almost all focused on a selfish love, on getting what you want, and not on giving love to another.
Well, the world may not be in the know yet, but we Catholics all realize the way to have a healthy and fulfilling sex life is to have a committed partner who puts us first. You can't get more committed than marriage with a vow of "until death do us part" and you can't get more selflessly loved than by a spouse who is following the teachings of John Paul II's Theology of the Body.
So there you have it. The best way to live a healthy life is to live a life in full communion with the teachings of the Catholic Church. And remember...