“It is absurd not to rejoice in the soul’s health, and rather to sorrow over the change in food and to appear to favor the pleasure of the stomach over the care of the soul. After all, while self-indulgence gratifies the stomach, fasting brings gain to the soul” (St. Basil the Great, First Homily on Fasting).
The Importance of Asceticism
Asceticism has played a role in every age of human civilization. From the very beginning of mankind, the Lord called man to fast. He commanded Adam and Eve to abstain from the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil (see Genesis 2:17). Esau lost his birthright when he failed to fast (see Genesis 25:30-34). Samuel was given to his mother when she fasted and prayed (see 1 Samuel 1:13-16). Samson’s unconquerable heroism was brought about by fasting (see Judges 13:4). The list goes on.
When you say no to your whimsical impulses, you become stronger. When you say no to the weakness of the flesh, both the flesh and the soul are emboldened. And when you say no to vice, you say yes to virtue. As St. Basil says, “True fasting is being a stranger to vice” (First Homily on Fasting). The virtuous life is the life of the free man.
What are the Disciplines of Exodus 90
Exodus 90 contains a specific list of ascetic disciplines to help you find uncommon freedom. These practices are not empty penances. They are God’s roadmap to freedom.
By committing to this list of ascetic disciplines, you and tens of thousands of other men will seek the uncommon freedom to which the Lord is calling you. This list of disciplines touches most aspects of daily life. As you read this list, some of the disciplines may sound very easy, and some may sound impossible. Be open to whatever the Lord is asking of you—do not harden your heart.
Read Exodus Reading & Reflection
Offer up a holy hour of prayer daily
Take short, cold showers
Abstain from eating between meals
Abstain from soda and sweet drinks
Abstain from desserts and sweets
Abstain from alcohol
Abstain from unnecessary mobile device use
Abstain from unnecessary computer use
Abstain from video games
Abstain from TV and televised sports
Listen only to music that lifts the soul to God
Abstain from non-essential purchases
Check-in with your Anchor
Get a full night’s sleep (at least seven hours is recommended)
Make a Nightly Examen
Practice regular, intense exercise
Weekly Fraternity Meeting
Fast on Wednesday and Friday (only eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals
hat together are not equal to a full meal)
Abstain from meat on Wednesday and Friday
Many men have admitted, after reading this list, to thinking about how they will modify it. But this kind of self-management does not lead to freedom. During Exodus, you will need to discern how the Lord is calling you to follow each of these disciplines. Do not harden your heart when the Lord is asking you to abstain from bodily pleasures. Open your body and soul to the freedom that the Lord is offering you.
Don’t give in to the temptation to be a literalist about the disciplines. While this list is a helpful guide, you must discern your intention and always follow God’s will. As you start this exercise, take the example of the early Christian Church in Jerusalem. In this community, “Each does what he can, nor is he praised who has done much, nor is he blamed who has done less” (Egeria’s Travels, c. 380 AD)
Using the App
Elite performers measure their progress to signal whether they are advancing toward their goal. The disciplines tab on this was designed to help you track your progress throughout this exercise.
You can mark each discipline as complete each day, and the app will track your streak. This kind of habit tracking is helpful because it: it acts as a visual cue to remind you to complete the disciples. It motivates you to make progress and build up your streaks. It is satisfying to see the results. As you check off the disciplines you complete each day, you will start to see your strengths and weaknesses. This can give you helpful insight into where you need to improve. Building a habit of virtue takes time—a whole lifetime, really. You may not see the fruits immediately. So count these small wins as they occur. It is both helpful and encouraging to see small streaks begin to develop.
You can also add your own personal disciplines on the disciplines tab. You may be going to pray a rosary every day or get out of bed by a certain time every morning. You can add any disciplines you are committing to at the bottom of the disciplines tab.
Pro tip: If you are entering a personal discipline, use an emoji as the first character. The first character will be displayed as the discipline’s image.
Have more questions about these disciplines?
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