Marriage Matters

A Freedom Found in Asceticism

This article was posted on: May 16, 2019

Recently, I began my most extended period of prayer and fasting ever through participation in Exodus 90.  It’s a challenging 90-day period of prayer and asceticism, supported by a fraternity that I began on January 21 – 90 days prior to Easter.  So, this year Ash Wednesday marked the halfway point of my “Lenten” journey.
While this initiative of Exodus 90 is new, the practices it promotes go back to Jesus himself.  I learned about Exodus 90 from some national leaders in Catholic men’s ministry just last fall and wanted to dismiss it as just another “quick-fix” crazy fad that asked men to follow some strange regimen.  However, as I learned more about it, and took it to prayer, I knew that God had put this on my heart and it was something I needed to do.  Once I made the decision to do it, I found encouragement by hearing it promoted by Catholic men I’ve come to respect for their solid contributions in the church such as Jason Evert, Fr. Rocky Hoffman and Fr. Mike Schmitz.
One of the big points of emphasis at the start was to prayerfully create a “why statement.”  Meaning, write down exactly why I’m doing this.  Since this is a demanding spiritual exercise, it’s important to know “why” I’m doing it.  There have been times of temptation when my focus has turned to “what” I’ve given up.  But I’ve found it easy to say “no” because I know “why” and within that, I know to what I’m saying “yes.”  My “yes” is centered on being a better husband and father.  
As I began Exodus 90, only one discipline was new; or so I thought.  What to date has been one of the best aspects of this experience has been the fraternity.  I am not doing this alone.  There are five men in my group who are walking with me and also holding me in prayer: we are accountable to one another.  As a young adult, I spent a year with NET ministries and came to love the aspect of team unity celebrated in prayer and support of each other.  Through 25 wonderful years of marriage, my wife has held me accountable and made me a better person.  Yet, there is something special to gather with a group of men and be able to lean on, support and challenge each other to be better husbands, fathers, and men.
Through this journey, I have come to realize the need to live intentionally with Christ in the center.  It has been a blessing not just for me, but for my family as this has led us to all be more disciplined and intentional about saying “yes” to the things which direct us toward being a total gift of self and thus the best version of whom God made us to be.  Even though I’m now just past the halfway point, I’m looking forward to day 91 and the freedom I’ll enjoy with my family.  Don’t misunderstand me.  The freedom will not be from going back to the old habits and “comforts” that kept me from fully embracing my vocation, but rather the freedom found in understanding to what, and to whom I need to say “yes” to on a daily basis.

You can connect with Dan Kitzhaber at [email protected].

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