Lent, the preparation for the passion and resurrection of our Lord, is starting this Wednesday. In a similar manner, we are called to die to ourselves and rise again with Him. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55) With this in mind, for this Lent and Easter I decided I wanted to do more than what I already do every year, so, on January 21st, I enrolled for Exodus 90.
Exodus 90 is a program that lasts 90 days, meant for men who want a radical change in their lives. As Moses led Israel out of Egypt, out of the grip of the Pharaoh, those partaking this journey undergo a similar exodus of their own. The ‘why’ is the same: we are slaves to the spirit of worldliness, in one way or another, and we want to renounce it to give ourselves more fully to God.
Today’s culture enslaves us. It allures us with comfort, but we were not made for comfort, we were made for greatness (Pope Benedict XVI). We are called to go out of ourselves, to serve others instead of making everything revolve around us. It is every man’s duty to give himself wholly to our God and, in doing so, to become a gift to others. This program is meant to help men do exactly that: to free them from fruitless distractions and help them commit more fully to those they are called to serve, be it their own families, their parishes or their communities.
Those who embark on this journey are usually men with different vocations: originally meant for seminarians, later on it was extended to married men, men in preparation for marriage, students, or simply those who are actively discerning and seeking God’s will for their lives. Despite their background differences, all men have to be part of a group; fraternity is a key part of the program. Fraternity is needed for accountability. We need one another to grow in our limitedness, to charitably show us our own faults and pick us up when we can’t take another step, and in turn we ourselves be the ones to help other members in their moments of need.
Prayer is another essential part of the program. Each day is accompanied by a different meditation on the story of Exodus, a time for silent prayer and the Rosary, as well as other commendable practices. Discipline is key, which is why men are called to renounce worldly luxuries, such as warm showers, sweets, alcoholic beverages, entertainment through technology (series, movies, video games, etc.), social media and alike. These things can be good in themselves in the right context, but most of us abuse them and forget what is their primary purpose. This is not done out of masochism, but to rediscover what is of true value in our lives: it is not the same whether a husband, coming home after work, chooses to mindlessly watch a series for 2-3 hours, or rather chooses to spend the same time with his wife and kids. Some things are more important than others, and we quickly lose sight of that if we are not careful enough, something very easy to do in today’s culture. This is why asceticism (self-denial) is so integral in Exodus, it trains us to make the right choices when these challenges come. Just try to go a day without checking your smartphone for notifications, dear reader, and you will know what I’m talking about. It can be a real struggle.
My own goal for this program is to become detached from worldliness by becoming completely attached to our Lord through our Lady. In doing so, I want to learn to love, live and see life with new eyes and a new heart. To love others not for myself or themselves, but for God. To love others for God is the true meaning of Christian charity: God’s love is the only love that gives freely. To love others for God means to love them as He loves us. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 Jn 4:19)
Yet the more we love like He does, giving ourselves freely to others, without needing something in return, the more we are loved by Him and the more He gives us. This is the paradox of divine love.
Quick update: I have begun publishing most of my articles in a Catholic portal, and will be re-posting them (slightly modified and expanded) here a month after their original publication, hence the delay.