Exodus 90 begins 2024 with a journey to freedom. So many men have expressed gratitude for the victory they have experienced over the habits and distractions that kept them from living a fuller life. These 90 days, however, are only the beginning of an uncommon life of freedom. Unless we live in an uncommon way throughout the year, it will be too easy to slide back toward everything we worked so hard to give up.
The whole year should be uncommon — uncommon in several ways. It goes beyond the ascetical practices that drove the 90 days. We must continue to fight, but at the same time, we must also embrace periods of leisure and celebration. Because we have fasted, we can truly feast, freed from the things that hold us back from the joy of the great celebrations of the year. We also must get into a realistic rhythm of daily prayer, discipline, and fraternity that can sustain us throughout the year.
After forty days of prayer and sacrifice, Easter can seem like a letdown. Yes, we have baskets of candy and some eggs, but then what? This season should be a bigger deal than Lent because the whole purpose of Lent is to be able to enter into the joy of Easter. In our Easter exercise, we unpack the life of the Holy Spirit that Jesus won for us in his Resurrection, how it should shape our prayer, and how we can celebrate throughout the fifty days leading up to Pentecost. We can become men who feast, drawing our families and friends into the joy of the season through food, drink, music, and fun–all ordered toward the glory of God.
Summer can become a time of spiritual malaise. With Exodus, we can keep a baseline of prayer and discipline, especially using our customizable Plan of Life that enables you to focus on areas of growth. This allows you to add your own disciplines for the things you know you’ll need to work on through the ebbs and flows of our summer schedule. Even during vacation, we must keep up our daily prayer and avoid falling back into our old ruts. When scheduling gets complicated, keeping your fraternity on track as much as possible is essential.
The summer offers many wonderful saints and feast days along the way. Following Pentecost, we honor the Holy Trinity, our Lord’s presence in the Eucharist for Corpus Christi, the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, St. John the Baptist, and Sts. Peter and Paul are the most significant. It’s an excellent time for a pilgrimage or retreat, making vacation time a more enriching experience. In 2024 — for a part of the summer — we will honor the Eucharist in conjunction with the National Eucharistic Congress, which will be held in Indianapolis July 17-21.
By the end of the summer, we’re ready for another challenge, just in time for St. Michael’s Lent, which begins on August 15th and runs to the feast of St. Michael on September 29th. This summertime lent focuses on the spiritual battle, giving us insight and courage to enter into the spiritual warfare surrounding us. It’s a time to rein in any difficulties with the use of technology, a common snare used by the enemy. To obtain freedom, we must become aware of the challenges surrounding and within us, including the temptation and deceit employed by the devil against us. Learning the nature of spiritual warfare helps us to arm ourselves against demonic attacks, to claim authority over our lives and loved ones, and to push back through the power of the Lord’s name.
Fall offers a welcome time to recoup with our brothers, focusing on the importance of fraternity and leadership. Men must step up in the Church and our culture to lead others to freedom. In autumn, we also turn our attention to the dead through the luminous and mysterious time of Allhallowtide: Halloween (All Hallows Eve), All Saints (All Hallows) Day, and All Souls Day. At Exodus, we have a beautiful tradition of praying for each other’s beloved departed family and friends for eight days during the All Hallows Octave (November 1-8), when the Church offers an indulgence for each day when visiting a cemetery for prayer. These days draw us into the heart of our fall spiritual experience, followed by another great feast day, Martinmas, honoring St. Martin of Tours. This day was the Catholic Thanksgiving Day of the Middle Ages, thanking God for the harvest with a traditional goose, enjoying needed festivity, and turning attention toward preparation for the coming winter.
The final season of the year, Advent, can be hard to figure out. It has a different focus and intensity than Lent. As Exodus men, we enter into the hope and expectation of the season, putting ourselves in the place of Israel, awaiting the freedom of the Savior. The more we learn to expect the Lord’s coming, the more Christmas can impact us, and we can truly experience his birth anew and the interior revolution it brings.
A child overturns all principalities and powers, manifesting the power of love, humility, and sacrifice over all the pretensions and noise of the world. Advent recognizes that the transformative power of Christmas requires intentional preparation, and we end the year strong by focusing on the joyful asceticism of this season.
Start your uncommon year here.
Dr. Staudt serves as Director of Content for Exodus and as an Instructor for the Lay Division of St. John Vianney Seminary. He is the author of How the Eucharist Can Save Civilization (TAN), Restoring Humanity: Essays on the Evangelization of Culture (Divine Providence Press) and The Beer Option: Brewing a Catholic Culture Yesterday & Today (Angelico Press). He holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Ave Maria University and B.A. and M.A. in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN). He and wife, Anne, have six children and he is a Benedictine oblate.