Earlier this month, there was a story on the internet about an Arizona man who had lost 335 pounds. His name is Pasquale “Pat” Brocco, and he’s 31 years old. His nickname used to be “Fat Pat.”
Three years ago, Pat was warned by his doctor that because of health-related problems associated with his obese condition, there was a strong likelihood that he was going to die in his sleep at an early age.
After meeting with his doctor, Pat went home, put on a pair of shorts, and took a side view picture of himself in the mirror. At that time, he weighed 605 pounds.
Pat commented on the picture during a recent interview with an ABC News reporter. He told the reporter that when he took the picture, he was disgusted with himself. His stomach was down to his thighs, and his chest was down to the top of his stomach.
After Pat took the picture of himself in the mirror, he threw out all his food and made a commitment to himself that he was going to walk to the local Walmart, and then back home, every time he wanted to eat something. The Walmart was a mile away, so every time he wanted to eat, he had to walk two miles, which meant that he began walking at least six miles every day.
Over time, Pat modified his diet. He said that he came to the conclusion that he needed to stop eating dairy products. After that, he started losing weight. He eventually added vegetables, meats, sweet potatoes, and steel-cut oatmeal to his diet.
After Pat lost about 200 pounds, he began working out at a local gym. Instead of walking to Walmart, he walked on a treadmill and lifted weights.
Now, three years later, he is 335 pounds lighter and weighs 270 pounds. When he began walking, he looked like a whale. Now he looks like a bodybuilder.
Because he lost so much weight, Pat ended up with about 30 pounds of excess skin. The extra skin was recently removed by a plastic surgeon, which reduced his weight even further.
Before starting his diet, Pat consumed more than 11,000 calories per day. His daily diet included a box of cereal, 1/2 gallon of whole milk, one package of peanut butter cups, one candy bar, a 12-inch meatball and cheese submarine sandwich, 100 fast food chicken nuggets, one fast food apple pie, one fast food milkshake, two liters of soda, and four doughnuts.
Today, Pat takes in about 2,200 calories per day. On a typical day he consumes about 20 egg whites, one cup of oatmeal, 24 ounces of chicken breast, green beans, six ounces of ground lean bison, 32 almonds, 1/2 sweet potato, and two gallons of water.
This is the most amazing weight loss story I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how this guy got out of bed in the morning, let alone persevere for more than 1,000 days. The most amazing thing about what he did was that he was able to maintain the burning desire and determination to stick to his new regimen for three years.
Think about what you could accomplish if you had the burning desire and determination that Pat Brocco had during the time he was losing weight.
After reading about what Pat did, it occurred to me that before a person can ever reach perfection, the person must have the same level of drive and determination that Pat had during the three years that he was exercising and reducing his weight.
Most people have trouble losing and keeping off 10 pounds. Only a small percentage of people are able to lose 30 or more pounds and then keep it off for the rest of their lives. How many people do you think would be able to go from 605 pounds to 270 pounds in three years? Not very many.
Do you know how many people reach perfection before they die? Probably about the same number of people who would be able to lose and keep off 305 pounds.
Most Catholics only perform the six basic requirements of the Church: (1) attend Mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation, (2) go to confession annually or more often when needed, (3) receive Holy Communion during the Easter season, (4) observe the laws on fasting and abstinence, (5) obey the marriage laws of the Church, and (6) support the Church financially and otherwise.
These Catholics are the equivalent of a person who is periodically able to lose five or ten pounds, but then ends up gaining the weight back within the following year.
The Catholics who go beyond the “legal limits” of what the church requires — such as attending Mass several times a week, spiritual reading and daily prayer, and routinely performing spiritual and corporal works of mercy — are equivalent to the person who is able to lose 30 pounds and keep it off.
The Catholics who are able to reach perfection before they die are, in some respects, like Pat Brocco. They’re hyper-focused on just one goal — to know, love, and serve God every moment of every day. Their goal becomes all-consuming. They develop the burning desire and the determination that is necessary to reach perfection. They do everything in their power to engage in continual mental prayer so that their every thought, word, and action is focused on glorifying God.
For these people, as each month goes by, our Lord carves away excess fat and drains away the sinful toxins that have accumulated in their hearts, minds, and souls. They eventually become Christ-like, and end up spending every moment of their lives in the presence of God.
The reason there’s a purgatory is that few people reach perfection before they die. Before they can get into Heaven, their souls must be purified. That’s what purgatory does for them.
I don’t know about you, but I would like to bypass purgatory and go straight to Heaven. That’s why I’m working on reaching perfection before I die.