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In Praise of Cold Showers (and Exodus 90)

For the record, spiritual directors and confessors have been recommending cold showers long before Exodus 90. Before it was "cool" ... 

Exodus 90 just started again. This is my 4th year, so I've had some time -- a lot of time -- to reflect on cold showers. 281 days, to be exact. 

Here's what I've noticed: 

When you put your head under cold water, it feels so WRONG. Bad, yes, but unnatural. Like putting your hand in fire. You feel that impulse or survival instinct to pull away quickly.

And yet, sin can feel so natural ... so goooood. Why don't our survival instincts kick in then?

Do you see the problem? Or, better yet, the solution? 

What if sin felt like a cold shower? What if avoiding sin felt like a warm shower? Would we so easily fall into sin? No.  

It used to be this way. This is what it was like before The Fall. Satan tempted Adam and Eve in three ways -- through our bellies, our flesh, and our eyes -- and Adam and Eve committed Original Sin. Satan's plan of attack has not changed. Read more about this here:

Will Power is Mind Power: Mind Over Matter 

Let's get metaphysical for a moment ...

As St. Thomas Aquinas (and Aristotle) teach us, the intellect provides the will with its object, its goal and end and final destination: "The intellect moves the will, because the good understood is the object of the will, and moves it as an end." [Summa Theologiae, Prima Pars, question 82, article 4 (ST Ia 82.4)]. 

What's that mean?

Our minds should reign over our will and our bodies like a king over his subjects, like a driver over a team of horses. If you think it, your body should follow. If you declare your will to yourself, your body should obey. 

Is this what happens? 

If you tell yourself, that's the last time I will ever eat raw cookie dough before bed. It's bad for me. It's makes me feel sick. Your body should stop craving the cookie dough. 

But this is NOT what's happening. 

Sin is death. Sin should feel like a cold shower, but it feels like a warm shower. Sin should taste like poison, but it tastes like cookie dough.  

Sin darkens the intellect and breaks the mind's control over the body. The mind can no longer see the good, the light. Not only that, even if the mind does see the good, the body rebels against it. The subjects usurps the king. The cookie dough should feel like a cold shower ... but it feels like a warm shower. 

Cold Showers - Jack Nicholson Shining freezing gif

Restoring Order through Cold Showers: Agere Contra

So how do you restore your mind's control over your will and body? How do you restore the king to his throne? 

You chastise the will. The king punishes his disloyal subjects. This is how the king restores order to the kingdom. 

How do you chastise the will? Is this the part where we start whipping ourselves? No ... we're not tough enough for that. 

You go against the will. The ancient spiritual term for this is agere contra (Latin, "to go against"). Do the opposite of what your will or your body wants. You desire a warm shower? Cold shower. You desire cookie dough? Fast. You desire riches? Give alms to charity. 

You picking up on some Lenten themes here? YES. This is exactly the point of Lent. 

It's time for the king to take back his kingdom. 

This is what men do. We restore order. 

Once order is restored, the kingdom can feast. 

Incidentally, this is why Jesus describes the Kingdom of Heaven as a wedding feast :)

By The Way, Here are Some Medical Benefits of Cold Showers 

Oh, by the way, there are medical benefits to cold showers. Bonus!

And ...

Medical benefits of cold showers Exodus 90

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