The first day of spring is just a few days away and the term “Spring Cleaning” will start floating into conversations among my friends. It’s interesting that society sees cleaning our dwelling places at this time of year as a priority, but not the need to cleanse our souls.
For the faithful the entire season of Lent is a time of spring cleaning for the soul. It is a time to be reflective, introspective and repentant. In recent years part of my Lenten journey has incorporated using digital tools to help draw me into daily reflection and introspection. I am a huge fan of Dynamic Catholic’s Best Lent Ever daily devotional video that is waiting for me in my inbox every morning. I get a cup of coffee, put my earbuds in and listen to the reflection. This year on the fourth day of Lent the devotional asked listeners to reflect on four questions:
- Who am I?
- What am I here for?
- What matters most?
- What matters least?
Pondering these questions really caused me to think long and hard about how I’m living my life. After each devotional there is an opportunity to comment or answer the question posed every day in the video, and as I scanned the answers of others it seemed that people ascribed labels like mom, daughter, their professional title. I wonder if that’s how Jesus sees us, in terms of societal labels? Then I wondered if living in our world causes us to label ourselves and does it limit our ability to really see who we are. My mind shifted to scripture to help me really ponder the question.
“Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15)
When Jesus asked the disciples who he was they responded knowingly that he was the Son of God. Who do your friends, family, colleagues or even neighbors say who you are? I remember having a conversation with a non-Catholic friend of mine about something I was struggling with and she said “Girl, don’t you know that you are a child of the King?” That declaration has resonated for me in my life for nearly thirty years. It is a deeply rooted feeling in my soul that prompts me to always want to please my heavenly father and to know he loves me.
I challenge you to ask a friend, family member, or colleague you trust: “Who do you say I am?” It may be the catalyst for helping you see who you really are in the eyes of God. For good or bad their feedback can serve as a spiritual renewal for you.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10)
Once you know who you are I think that you can then really focus on what you are here for. Because I know that I’m a “Child of the King” my gifts and talents come from my creator and like the DNA of my earthly parents it is ordained that my God-given gifts are to be used to glorify the Lord with my life. God has given me many gifts, and living in a world that rewards the talented has been a struggle for me to use my gifts to glorify God instead of striving to make money with them. So humility is something I work really hard on every single day of my life. It’s always at the top of my list of things to confess. That brings me back to the spring cleaning point. Both Catholics and non-Catholics struggle with the need to confess our sins to a priest. Some think they can just go straight to God in prayer don’t need the middleman, but Bishop Barron’s explanation of “Persona Christi” clearly outlines the middleman, the way God planned it.
Another thing I do for Lent is to focus on a weekly Ignatian Examen to help me review how I am living in the presence of God. To keep myself on track, I seek the help of a spiritual director. A number of my friends have counselors, therapists, even psychiatrists, to have someone to share their most intimate struggles at exorbitant fees, but as a Catholic we have this gift for free. Some friends say they don’t feel comfortable going to Confession because the priest knows their voice or the issue they share. Another gift of our faith is you can go to any parish for Confession. This Lent I challenge you to do a daily or weekly Examen and be sure to attend communal penance services to cleanse your soul.
But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God has started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God. (Acts 20:24)
Discerning what matters least and most also flows from knowing who you are and what you are here for. As I said, most people responded that faith, family, and health are most important, but different people placed the big three in a different order. Lent is a time when we look at what matters most to us and we “give it up” as a sacrifice to elevate God’s presence in our lives.
Sadly, for many of us after Easter the thing we’d sacrificed retakes its place at center stage in our lives, while God will move to backstage in our lives. My last challenge to you this Lent: Don’t just give something up; give time to a new spiritual practice that you can continue doing long after this sacred season is over.
So as we move into spring let’s dig into our spiritual and physical closets to purge them of what we don’t need and fill our homes with blossoms of a renewal and new life.
Copyright 2019 Sherry Hayes-Peirce