‘I couldn’t do it without Him’


By Father Collin Poston
Editor’s note: Father Poston, pastor of St. Mary in Hagerstown, wrote the following for his parish’s Christmas bulletin, which he shared with the Catholic Review.
Recently, I had an opportunity to get some exercise at my local gym. I like to run on the elliptical/stairmaster, for my “cardio” workout, and then lift some weights, whether dumbbells or using the machines there. While I was on the “leg press” machine (which I despise but do begrudgingly anyway, and then walk a bit wobbly for two days later) I noticed out of the corner of my eye a young, thin-but-athletic man in his young to mid-30s who was working out. He was a bit different: he was “hobbling” a bit, as he had an evident leg injury and was using a cane to move from machine to machine. Where it might take an average person only a few seconds to do this, for him it took almost a minute each time. But once he was at each one (mostly upper body exercises) he would just “get it” – he worked out harder than anyone else in the gym that day! The most amazing thing was watching him do pull-ups, all despite his leg injury, and then gingerly let himself down after he finished.
When he was resting, I came up and said “hi” to him, and we got into a good conversation.

“You’re the priest in the TV commercials, right?” he said (I hadn’t introduced myself yet, but I was wearing black gym clothes; I guess the “priestly black” gave me away – even in the gym.) So when we spoke, I eventually asked him (respectfully) what happened with his leg. He had been in a motorcycle accident 18 years ago, he said, and he has been “recovering” ever since. He had a dangerous spinal injury in the crash, and hence he can only walk with a cane; but he needed to exercise regularly after the accident and went through months of physical therapy just to get to where he is now.

I told him how I was very inspired by him and his example. When I asked him “how he did it,” he gave a simple, humble but profound little gesture: he just pointed up toward the ceiling and heaven, and had a very big, bright smile on his face, saying, “I couldn’t do it without Him.”
The reason we celebrate Christmas is so like my new friend Mark’s answer: as a human family, we couldn’t do it without Him. Without Jesus, we have no salvation, no redemption, no Incarnation, no life-death-Resurrection. As we celebrate this Christmas, may we do so with a humble gratitude for every blessing we have – and in a most special way the gift of faith that we have in Him. May the Christ-Child fill you with a newfound joy this Christmas, knowing that every blessing we have, visible or invisible, is his daily Christmas gift to us.
In Jesus, our little Lord and newborn King
Father Collin

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Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.