Bernardo M. Villegas
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Spiritual Triathlon

           I am impressed by the present generation of young and middle-aged professionals who have devoted themselves with passion to physical fitness.  It is not rare for many friends and acquaintances of mine in their thirties, forties and even fifties to spend anywhere from ten to twenty hours weekly running, cycling and/or swimming to keep themselves physically fit.  A good number of them participate in the ubiquitous fun run, marathons, Xterras, half and full triathlons and many other sports events that literally have sprouted like mushrooms in many cities of the country  today.

          This trend augurs well for the longevity of many CEOs and other top executives whom we need as human capital for the sustainable economic growth that now seems in sight for the country over the next twenty years when we can finally have a reasonable chance to catch up with our more progressive neighbors.  It would really be terrific if our CEOs now in their fifties can live as long and as productively as the quintessential CEO, Washington Sycip, who has done much to build leaders and institutions in his more than 90 years of life.  May his tribe increase.

          In this period of Advent, a preparation for Christmas, I would like to ask my friends in the business community to reflect on the other race and fitness program that they cannot afford to neglect.  I am referring to the holiness to whom every Christian is called, without any exception.  The irony is that not everyone can qualify for the final triathlon in Kona, Hawaii.  I understand only 8 Filipinos were able to join the event.  But everyone can be a saint if he or she uses the means God provided through the Church founded by Jesus Christ.

          As a basis for reflection and meditation during these holy days, let me quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2012 to 2o16) on the subject of Christian holiness to which everyone is called.  "We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him...For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the first-born among many brethren.  And those whom He predestined He also called; and those whom He called He also justified; and those whom He justified He also glorified.

          "All Christians in any state of walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.  All are called to holiness:  'Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect...Spiritual progress tends toward ever more intimate union with Christ.  This union is called 'mystical' because it participates in the mystery of Christ through the sacraments--'the holy mysteries--and, in him, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity.  God calls us all to this intimate union with him, even if the special graces or extraordinary signs of the mystical life are granted only to some for the sake of manifesting the gratuitous gift given to all.

          "The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross.  There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle.  Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes . . .  The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in. communion with Jesus.  Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the 'blessed hope' of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the 'holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from   God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.' "

          Physical fitness and Christian holiness have many things in common:  tireless human effort, the sacrifices, the self-denials, and the perseverance at any cost.  There is, however, one big difference.  Human effort and human devices suffice for physical perfection.  Christian holiness is impossible without the grace of God which is obtained through prayer and the Sacraments.  I fervently hope that those aspiring for earthly triathlons will also devote themselves with the same zeal to the spiritual triathlon.  For comments, my email address is