Re-Boot your spiritual life in Lent

Jeff Hedglen

Associate Director Young Adult Ministry

North Texas Catholic

2/26/2013

There are times when I wish setting things right in my life was as easy as restarting my computer. When my personal computer is running a bit slow, or won’t connect to the Internet, or just isn’t working the way it is supposed to work — and especially when it completely locks up — all we have to do is do a “re-boot” and most of the time everything gets reset and things are back to normal. If only resetting the spiritual life was as easy.

A while back at a daily Mass, Father Timothy Perkins from St. Peter the Rock Anglican Ordinariate Community was reflecting on the parable of the Sower and the Seed. The one where the Sower throws seeds for planting and some fell on the path and the birds came and ate it up; other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil; others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. He observed that we all like to think we are the fertile soil. But in truth, he continued, our souls have each of the types of soil delineated in Jesus’ teaching.

Who among us has not, at some point in our lives, been faced with a temptation, knew the right thing to do, but then gave in to the temptation, just like the seed thrown on the pathway that is eaten up by the birds? Or who has not in some superficial way embraced the faith, only to abandon it when things get tough, like the seed that fell on rocky ground where it had little soil and withered in the noonday sun? Again, which of us has not been choked by the sin in our lives, or been the one causing others to be choked by sin?

To be sure, we also have been rich soil that has borne much fruit in friendships, family, and works of charity and piety. But to be so shortsighted as to not recognize the other types of soil in our lives is to not be completely honest.

This reality is exactly what makes the season of Lent so perfect. In the journey of the Church year, I think Lent is kind of like a re-boot. We slow down, remove some of the more ceremonial aspects of our liturgical expressions and focus in on the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus, which is the absolute center of all of our beliefs.
Another complication in this reality of the various “soils” in our soul, is that we may actually have all of the soil types active in our soul at the same time. One area of our life may be receiving the faith deeply and making a significant impact for the Kingdom of God, but other areas may be struggling to embrace the seed, or we may not be doing enough in a particular area to feed and grow the seed of faith, or perhaps there is another area where we are avoiding God’s word, for we know what He would say and we don’t want to listen.

Whatever the condition of our soil, the Church offers us this season to take a step back and be honest with ourselves. But we are not left to fend for ourselves. We are offered opportunities for reconciliation, even Lenten missions, retreats, or days of reflection.

But to make this re-boot effective, we have to make an honest assessment of our spiritual lives. The goal of self-assessment and examinations of conscience is not to point out our failures and cause self-loathing, rather the purpose is to reveal areas where growth is needed. John Paul II in many places states the uniting of our human struggle to the cross of Jesus allows us to connect with the healing power of the cross. Wherever our soil is in need of nurturing, we have only to look to the cross of Jesus and invite the Crucified Christ into this area of our lives and then work with Him through the suffering journey, all the way to Easter and resurrection.

There are times when I wish setting things right in my life was as easy as restarting my computer. When my personal computer is running a bit slow, or won’t connect to the Internet, or just isn’t working the way it is supposed to work — and especially when it completely locks up — all we have to do is do a “re-boot” and most of the time everything gets reset and things are back to normal. If only resetting the spiritual life was as easy.

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