Apostolate needed: Pilates for Priests

Clergymen used to be a healthy and long-living bunch. But over the past few years, studies have shown that pastors are in worse health than other Americans. Their rates of obesity, hypertension, and depression are higher, and their life expectancy is lower.

As The New York Times reports, experts don’t agree on any single explanation for this, but one thing everyone’s on the same page about is the need for more time off:

As cellphones and social media expose the clergy to new dimensions of stress, and as health care costs soar, some of the country’s largest religious denominations have begun wellness campaigns that preach the virtues of getting away. It has been described by some health experts as a sort of slow-food movement for the clerical soul.

Catholic canon law requires priests to take a retreat each year as well as four weeks of vacation — unless there’s a serious reason they can’t.

In recent years, I’ve often noted to myself how few priests take care of themselves. Many are overweight, seem depressed, and lack good levels of fitness. Some people think this isn’t important — it’s the soul that matters most, after all. But if our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and the instruments through which we act, we must care for our physical selves to better live our vocations.

It must be extra hard for priests, who are overworked and don’t have wives to encourage good health habits. I’ve never met a rectory cook who makes this a high priority — they work for the priests and tend to cook what they both know best. 

I don’t think this was as much of a problem for priests in other times — there were more of them back then — meaning less insane schedules — and life was slower paced. Food was healthier and priests did more walking and physical activity.

Of course, I’m not talking about a priest paying undue attention to his looks, but to his physical health in order to have the energy, clear thinking, stable mood, and wellness required to serve in such demanding times. I would even argue that healthy, fit priests are better role models and inspire more vocations. 

Anybody know if there are programs out there that educate and encourage priests to be healthier?

Zoe Romanowsky

By

Zoe Romanowsky is writer, consultant, and coach. Her articles have appeared in "Catholic Digest," "Faith & Family," "National Catholic Register," "Our Sunday Visitor," "Urbanite," "Baltimore Eats," and Godspy.com. Zo

Crisis Magazine Comments Policy

This is a Catholic forum. As such:

  1. All comments must directly address the article. “I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter.” (Matthew 12:36)
  2. No profanity, ad hominems, hot tempers, or racial or religious invectives. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
  3. We will not tolerate heresy, calumny, or attacks upon our Holy Mother Church or Holy Father. “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
  4. Keep it brief. No lengthy rants or block quotes. “For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)
  5. If you see a comment that doesn’t meet our standards, please flag it so a moderator may remove it. “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” (Galatians 6:1)
  6. All comments may be removed at the moderators’ discretion. “But of that day and hour no one knows…” (Matthew 24:36)
  7. Crisis isn’t responsible for the content of the comments box. Comments do not represent the views of Crisis magazine, its editors, authors, or publishers. “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God… So each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10, 12)
MENU