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The Young Church: A reflection on discipline and will power

I never cease to be amazed at the wisdom of the teens that I spend time with. Fasting and temperance are virtues we as Catholics are called to embrace and continue to discipline ourselves in. This usually calls to mind the season of Lent; we are called however to keep this muscle strong year-round and use that discomfort to pray for our loved ones or offer it up for something greater. This past month I was struck by a particular youth and her rock-hard willpower to stick to a healthy diet. At the awakening retreat in the last week's bulletin, there were a lot of snacks and other goodies bought for snack breaks and evening socialization. I'm talking fruit snacks, chips, cookies, Rice Krispy treats, etc. As the table of youth preceded to snack on these things, I noticed one girl eating some healthy dried fruit she had brought. I asked her if she wanted more to eat or some of the other snacks. She thanked me and said, "No thanks," and that she was eating healthy. When I asked why that was, she responded by saying a family member had recently had surgery and they were both going to eat healthier and be accountability partners. She remained strong through the weekend eating her healthy home-brought snacks, removing excess things from meals, and not once complaining or letting others know how healthy she was being or how hard not indulging in the treats was. I was so immediately inspired by her dedication, maturity, and gentle humility to stick to something that I know at that age I would not have been able to do. As this new year approaches, I think of her and realize that if a high schooler can deny tables of unhealthy, yet delicious snacks all weekend, then I too can sacrifice in small ways as well.

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