I sometimes think of myself as a “Jim Fixx Catholic.”
Does anyone remember Jim Fixx? Fixx was a man of 36, overweight at 214 pounds, who smoked two packs of cigarettes a day. Then, he decided to start running. Ten years later, he weighed 154 pounds, and was smoke free. He wrote a book entitled, The Complete Book of Running, which spent several weeks on the best-seller lists, and he became something of a guru in the fitness movement of the 1970s and 80s.
Then, in 1984, at the age of only 52, Fixx died of a heart attack while on his daily run.
Many used his young and untimely death to ridicule or criticize the fitness movement. All that running, weight loss and quitting smoking – and Fixx still died of a heart attack at 52! Then, his doctor and others revealed that Fixx had a congenital heart condition, that his own father had died of a second heart attack at the age of 43, and that Fixx’s fitness program likely added ten years to his life rather than cut it short. Basically, if Fixx hadn’t quit smoking and started running, he would have died years earlier.
So, what’s this about being a “Jim Fixx Catholic”? Well, I have a condition. I was born with this condition. It’s called concupiscence, or the tendency to be attracted to and drift toward the ungodly. This leads to sin. I am a terrible sinner. If the wages of sin is death, as St. Paul tells us, my death is certain and soon. Is there any hope? Is there any reason to think that I might be spared the consequences of this condition? Yes! But, my only hope is in Christ Jesus and in the truth revealed and grace available to me through His Church. Hence, I cling to my Catholic faith.
Now, I am a terrible Catholic! I’m lazy. I don’t like sacrifice. I like things that are ungodly. I prefer the easy life, the kind of life that results in my soul being severely overweight and out of shape. But, because of God’s grace given to me by my Catholic faith and my poor attempts to live it, I have hope that my soul is in at least good enough shape to get me past the gates of hell, just as Fixx’s running got him in at least good enough shape to get him past his forties! Were it not for his running, Fixx would have died years earlier. Were it not for God’s grace given me by my Catholic faith, I would be drenched in a life of sin and on a certain road to eternal death. As horrible a sinner as I am now, think how much more horrible it would be were it not for my faith. I hold on to my faith for my own soul’s sake!
My prayer is that, at the end of my days, I will be able to say with St. Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on the Day, and not only me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Tm 4:7-8).
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.