5 Mental Shifts that will help you survive Exodus 90

Photo by Guillaume Briard on Unsplash

No sugar, fasting, and rigorous self-examination are your daily bread in this intense journey into the desert. Exodus 90 has helped men escape the clutches of addictions and get rid of distractions that keep them from living their best life. It brings the discipline back to the 21st century disciple. Most Christians can barely survive Lent, so how is your Average Joe going to do 90 days straight of cold showers, abstinence, and prayer? I did Exodus 90 last year, and due to its intensity I’ve decided I’m not ready to take it on again. However, I would like to hopefully give some advice that may help those brave souls doing it this year.

When you really don’t want to follow a certain discipline, meditate fiercely on the Passion of Christ

When that cold shower sounds awful, and that freshly baked muffin can’t be eaten, don’t let your suffering remain just yours. Imagine in your head this deprivation but multiplied one hundred fold, and see this pain in the brutal death that Christ endured. Your mental solidarity with his pain will help bring meaning to yours, and give you courage to not give in. This meditation will also shed light on how your slight gain by sin cost so much blood to the savior. This will give you a greater desire to atone and amend your past transgressions, and will make your self-denial strangely satisfying.

Realize that you don’t need much to find joy

In the beginning you will feel the misery more than the benefit, in all honesty, but if you remain patient you will receive a gift so profound. You will find yourself content with little, and the terrible cravings that had caused you so much pain will seem so foolish. You will discover the “Perfect Joy” of St. Francis who, when walking with his companion Brother Leo, told him that the greatest joy is to be found when not even the greatest of pains can take away the smile on our face. I realized this fact around day forty or so and recall vividly a certain chilly day. There was a slight drizzle, and the cold outside only brought more intensity to the Exodus journey. I remember going to eat lunch and just sitting there holding my face against a warm, black cup of coffee. I smiled in glee as I didn’t just realize, but felt the joy in simplicity, and was delighted that self-deprivation could not take it away from me.

“And now, brother, listen to the conclusion. Above all the graces and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ grants to his friends, is the grace of overcoming oneself, and accepting willingly, out of love for Christ, all suffering, injury, discomfort and contempt.” -St. Francis of Assisi

Every battle on this journey depends on the grace of God

It will only take a couple of cold showers and a day of fasting to make you realize how weak you really are. There will be many days where you will be brought to your metaphorical knees and humbled. This is where Exodus 90 really begins, when it becomes less of an ego driven goal to that of a deep encounter with God. Pray often the Litany of Humility, and always remind yourself that this journey cannot be done alone. And even if it could, what benefit would it bring if the only results were vanity and pride? No, Exodus will help you say with St. Paul that you are strongest when you are weakest, that every failure is only an opportunity to glorify God even more. It is this mindset of chasing glory not for oneself, but for the one infinitely greater, that will make you unstoppable all the way through.

The True Man in you will feel Alive

Your sacrifice of praise in the furnace of discipline will breed a great feeling of strength, and you will no longer feel enslaved. You will feel like a warrior commissioned by a great King, and you will relish in battle. Our society has conditioned us to love without war, but a man was made for battle. It is the reason why so many descend into nihilism and despair, finding no meaning in their lives other than in the vices that they serve. That is why I believe that men of ages past did not have as many problems with self-esteem. They were tough, hardened by building virtue in struggle, and that is what made them the best lovers. Remember this when you’re tempted to give up. Remember that no one will be crowned without a price. Let the man that is within you relish in that fact.

You will reap the rewards of this journey long past 90 days

Exodus 90 will not get rid of all of your vices, rid you of all of your problems, or canonize you a saint, but it will make life afterwards just a little easier and your comforts will be appreciated so much more. You will be able to find more joy in the things that you had taken for granted, and gratitude will multiply. Even though I still fell back into old vices and bad habits after Exodus, the journey served as a reminder that “the narrow way” of the Cross is always better than our slavery to pleasure. Exodus 90 brings glory to the arduous, and part of it will remain with you. I know that I have tried to keep some of the disciplines from it as best as I can, and they have helped me tremendously. One of the most important things to take from Exodus is that the Cross is not the way to misery, but the way to excellence. It makes your mind more aware of the simple reality that Discipline is 10% pain and 90% benefit while pleasure in excess is 10% benefit and 90% pain. Your body will be conditioned to do more and to carry on longer, which is no small reward for these 90 days.

Are you ready to take on the great fight?

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An every now and then writer looking to challenge modern archetypes and form new ones.

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Benjamin Avery

Benjamin Avery

An every now and then writer looking to challenge modern archetypes and form new ones.

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