Zero to One Hundred in a Lifetime

I remember when I was young and ‘cared’ about cars much more than I do now. It seemed like every conversation about a car included “How fast is it?” Even in commercials the answer was in terms of zero to sixty. How fast could the car get up to speed in other words. It might work for cars, but when it comes to getting up to ‘spiritual speed’ rapid acceleration is rarely possible.

I also remember watching the gas gauge move when my car was challenged. It wasn’t until I was older and appreciate good gas millage that I realized a slow and steady start still got up to speed but wasted much less energy. There were also fewer chances of accidents when we got off to a slow start. ‘Gunning it’ off the start was dangerous and expensive.

Today is the commemoration of another martyr saint that was tortured horribly for his faith in Christ. Saint Eustathios and is entire family were tortured and killed because they refused to bow down and offer worship to idols. We read about these saints every day, and I am always inspired by their faith.

I also realize that many of us might try to ‘get up to speed’ like Saint Eustathios in our daily lives now. What the stories about these saints don’t tell in brief outlines is the life of faith they built along the way. We rarely see saints convert from paganism and immediately be willing to be tortured for Christ. It happens to be sure, but it is rare. The saints just didn’t go ‘from zero to one hundred’ in a day. It took a lifetime.

The same is true for many inquirers and converts that I meet. They see the yiayias fasting and making hundreds of bows and they think “I want to be like that!” It is a good and worthy goal, but the yiayias were not always so pious. It took a lifetime to get to where they are.

The Greek work the Church uses to describe spiritual discipline is the same word for exercise. In other words, our spiritual disciplines exercise our souls. You wouldn’t walk into a fitness center, having never been there before, and head straight for the fancy machines. They are dangerous if you don’t know how to use them. The same is true for the spiritual disciplines of the Church.

A good fitness trainer gets to know you and with help you ‘get up to speed’ to use machines that will help your body grow stronger. A good spiritual father does the same. Sometimes they even hold you back if they feel like you’re heading for danger. Both want you to succeed and both are there to ‘get you up to speed’ safely.

Whether it is fasting, prostrations, a prayer rule, etc., all spiritual disciplines of the Church require time to ‘get up to speed’ so you don’t run off the road. We still read the stories of the martyrs for inspiration just as we watch the fitness gurus work out on the fancy machines. The only difference between them and us is time.

Be patient and faithful. Your spiritual father will help you ‘get up to speed’ if you trust him. You can’t go from convert to saint in a day. It takes a lifetime.

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