Juice cleanses and crazy food diets seem to be recently popular crazes in our society. Less attention has been placed on spiritual experiences of focus and lifestyle change. Exodus 90 is an example of radically altering habits and daily practices in order to benefit the self longterm. The program, currently running on campus from Feb. 15 to May 25, is co-sponsored by Campus Ministries and the Saint Benedict Institute. The goal of the program is to have people participate in a 90-day challenge of discipline to essentially discover a higher sense of freedom. Without the purification freedom we become unable to correctly, fully and selflessly love God as well as our neighbors.
The spiritual experience is geared toward men and women seeking to discover a vocation, struggling to overcome an addiction, or simply striving to create or further build a relationship with God. In chapel a few weeks ago, Kelly Peregrine (’20) shared some of her reasons for joining: “I was in a time in my life that I needed revival with my Heavenly Father. I had lost my dad to cancer just before coming to college. That left a huge void in my life and it totally turned my life upside down. I needed to depend on my Heavenly Father.” The number 90 is not an arbitrary one chosen for the program. Many rehabilitation models, including Alcoholics Anonymous, are centered around this large chunk of days because it is seen as the amount of time necessary for the brain to reset itself.
After 90 days of consciously practicing a specific habit, it becomes more natural and easier to incorporate into daily life. Prayer is a crucial piece for growth when involved in Exodus 90. A minimum of 20 minutes each day is a typical guideline, and a full holy hour per day is preferred. The title Exodus 90 originated due to the 90 verses of scripture found in the book of Exodus. There are corresponding meditations available for each of the verses to guide prayer. Fellowship with the other people participating in the program is another essential aspect. Each student is assigned a prayer partner and comes to view this individual, along with the others involved, as a brother or sister. When the sacrifices become difficult, the brothers or sisters help pick each other up and encourage steadfastness.
Participants are expected to give up a copious amount of habits and practices. The program generally entails refraining from the consumption of alcohol and sweets, obtaining seven hours of sleep each night and taking short, cold or lukewarm showers. During an uncomfortably cold shower after a chilly track practice, Peregrine realized the Holy Spirit was communicating to her that “you don’t have to be physically okay to be okay.” She discovered that her source of comfort and peace in her heart depended on her circumstances. A chaotic life equated to a chaotic heart. “Exodus 90 and those disciplines taught me to put my source of comfort in the Prince of Peace,” said Peregrine.