Sunday, January 12, 2020, five brave catholic men in Tartu, Estonia take the courage to start an incredible journey together. It’s been 90 days since I and four other brothers started this Exodus 90 journey. Even though I joined late around 1 week later, I still can feel how this journey really changes my way of life. Some of you are just wondering, what are you talking about, Enlik? What is Exodus90? How is it work? Yes, I’ll explain it below
Exodus 90 — How It Works for Us
According to the official website, it’s a 90-day spiritual exercise for men based on three pillars: prayer, asceticism, and fraternity. Following these three pillars, we learn how to live the essential aspects of the Christian life. Here is the explanation of every pillar:
Every day during this 90-day journey, all of us need to make a commitment for a daily holy hour, read daily readings and do the personal reflection about it. Daily hour itself, not restrict you to keep a minimum one-hour prayer, but rather the main purpose is to build our habit to spend time every day actively listening to the Lord.
This can be simply defined as acts of self-denial. The following are the list of ascetic disciplines during Exodus 90:
- Take short, cold showers.
- Practice regular, intense exercise.
- Get a full night’s sleep (at least seven hours is recommended).
- Abstain from alcohol.
- Abstain from desserts and sweets.
- Abstain from eating between meals.
- Abstain from soda or sweet drinks (white milk, black coffee, and black tea are permissible).
- Abstain from television, movies, or televised sports.
- Abstain from video games
- Abstain from non-essential material purchases.
- Only listen to music that lifts the soul to God.
- Only use the computer for work, school, or essential tasks (e.g., paying bills).
- Only use mobile devices for essential communications; cut out non-essential texting, app, and internet use.
- Take Wednesdays and Fridays as days of fasting. (Abstain from meat and only eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal.)
In my personal experience, asceticism itself is the hardest pillar, especially when one of the disciplines is part of your daily life or even become your favorite hobbies. In my case, it’s a video game, I grow up with this medium, got a professional job in the game industry, and still actively following the development of the industry itself.
Nevertheless, it’s the purpose of asceticism itself, to help each mean to detach from the things of the world. In accordance with the pillar of daily prayer, asceticism pillar helps us turn from unessential material things of the world to God.
Remember Matthew chapter 18 verse 20 “For where two or three gathers in my name, there am I with them”, this is the blessing that I’ve got from Fraternity. We need to pick one man to be our anchor and every day we will try to keep updated with our anchor either by text, call, or in-person every day. If he or I start to fall, we need to be ready to hold each other, like a real anchor. The Exodus 90 program creator believes that fraternity is the essential aspect of the Christian life because when we challenge each other to do what is good and hold each other accountable to do it, great fruits consistently come about. The Christian life is not easy, you need brothers and they need you.
Every Saturday morning, we will meet after finishing the Saturday morning mass at the one and only Tartu Catholic Church, The Parish of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Holy Virgin Mary. We come to Emajõgi River or Elva Lake to swim in the coldness of winter season in Estonia, a truly serious challenge for me as a skinny man. After that, we gather inside the room, pray together, and give a report about our weekly journey of Exodus 90. Unfortunately, as the state of emergency declared by the government of Estonia in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we can’t gather normally since March 12, 2020, we used Skype instead :)
What Has Changed in My Life?
Here are some of the new habits that I aware of:
- I have a new morning ritual: meditation — daily holy hour — reading reflection — doing physical exercise. For meditation, I’ve got a lot of help from calm meditation app that I’ve used before starting this journey.
- Before this program, I have a personal tendency to easily fall into depression and anxiety, especially in remembering my failure of building relationships with someone that I’d love. I’m able to control my anxiety and depression, and be less reactive, be present.
- God’s blessing come upon me, I’ve got an internship opportunity with one of the IT companies in Tartu, Estonia.
- My personal relationship with some of my friends and family are getting better because now I realize I have more time with them, which usually I spent for my personal hobby that costs a lot of of time, video game. I started to have the courage to use voice calls for communication with my friend instead of only send a text message.
- Music — I feel how to live in a simple life, listening to the same playlist music day after day which brings me to God’s voice. And then, I realize when I open my favorite songs (that mostly are modern songs), I become more appreciative of them. It also works for movies and video games as well.
- I learning how to be live the essentialism, to buy only the essentials things and reduce the usage of unessential things.
- My old addiction to pornography is slowly faded away as I have something else to love, to care, and to do. I try to keep my mind that I never feel lack of love (which is the source of porn addiction), because every day, every time, God is always loving me, starting from the morning when I woke up, until the evening when I went back to sleep, no matter what conditions that I have and how sinful I am, He always loves me, loves us. :”)
- I’m enjoying how to keep gratitude journaling every day which is helping me keep my mental health to stay healthy.
Personally, I believe this program itself will not work without your personal commitment and the brothers surround you. Let me give a huge thanks to my fraternity brothers: Elias, Oto, Michael, and Gratian, who keep staying together until the end of this journey. Thank you for being my brothers for sharing, suffering, and praying together throughout this 90-day journey. You guys are truly bringing the goodness of God in my life journey.
Let me close this short reflection writing with this question, as mentioned in the day 90’s reflection, “Will you continue to live a life of prayer, asceticism, and fraternity? The choice is yours. Choose life”. Be a man of freedom!