In the Weeds

Today I decided to tackle some weeds growing out of control in part of our yard. I find manual labor to be so good for the soul.  It’s one of the few things that can truly quiet my mind, which in turn, gives me space to contemplate. As I was weeding, it occurred to me how much of a parallel there is between literal pulling up weeds in a garden and rooting out sin in the garden of our own souls. Here is what I gleaned:

1. If you don’t weed regularly, it takes much longer and much more effort to get rid of those unwanted plants. So it is with sin. If we ignore the little sins in our lives, they start to grow without us even noticing. And then before we realize it, we’ve got a garden full of weeds! Then it can be hard to even know where to begin in addressing the things keeping us from God and preventing the beauty God’s Love from growing in our hearts.

2. By ignoring a patch of less harmful weeds, we may miss the fact that more insidious plants are growing up in their midst. In my case, there were a lot of easy to pull up, non-thorny weeds,and, in the middle, was a three-foot high thistle plant with scary-looking barbs all over it. Yikes. This can happen with sin in our lives. By ignoring “small” sins and letting them take root, bigger sins can take us by surprise. And they can do much more damage and be much harder (and more painful) to root out.

3. Christ is the Gardener. Although we must put forth our own efforts rooting out sin, it really is His grace that makes the work we are doing effective. If we forget this and try to do it on our own power, the weeds will certainly win the battle. The most effective way to allow Christ to root out the weeds of sin in our lives is to frequent the sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist. I find that going to Confession regularly (my goal is every month) makes an enormous difference in my spiritual life. Combining a nightly examination of conscience with monthly Confession is a great combination for rooting out sin, and, to continue the analogy, the Eucharist is kind of like the fertilizer for virtue.

Can you relate to this analogy? What are some of the tools you have found that help root out the weeds of sin in your own life?

Thoughts On the Resurrection

Christ-resurrected

Happy Easter! Did you know that the Church celebrates Easter as an Octave? So essentially all eight days of Easter are being celebrated as one. Check out Blessed Is She’s blog post on this topic – super interesting. Every day in the Easter Octave I have been saying at least one decade of the Rosary and meditating on the mystery of Christ’s Resurrection. Which got me thinking, what is the significance of the Resurrection, for our own lives, really? How does it impact us other than being a nice idea?

For me, the most profound way that the Resurrection impacts my everyday life is that I do not have to be bogged down by my sins. Like a lot of people, I struggle with the same sins, day after day, month after month, year after year. I confess the same things in the confessional. It can be really discouraging. But the Catechism tells us that “by his death, Christ liberates us from sin; by his Resurrection, he opens for us the way to a new life” (CCC 654). Because Christ has conquered sin and death, I receive His mercy in the sacrament of reconciliation and have reason to hope for complete liberation from sin in heaven. More to come on that whole mercy thing in a few days when we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday.

Speaking of conquering sin and death, we need no longer fear dying. I think most of us are at least a little afraid of death. Many of us are very afraid, if we’re being honest. And we’d rather not talk about it, so can we change the subject please?? In our culture, suffering and dying are pretty much the worst thing that can happen to someone. Especially dying a tortuous death that is not of our own choosing and/or dying at a young age, like Jesus did. However, Christ, by dying such a death and then coming back to life,  has given us reason to cast aside our fear, because through His victory, we are now able to have life eternal in Heaven with Him. Death is now the gateway to that. If we accept his offer of salvation, we need not fear because unimaginable joy and life await us on the other side of physical death. So just as the angel told the women at the tomb to “be not afraid… He has risen”, neither do we need to be afraid.

Moreover, the ineveitable earthly experiences of suffering and death are no longer empty. Christ, through dying and rising, has entered into those human realities and given them meaning. Suffering is unavoidable. I’m sure all of us can think of an example of how suffering has entered into our own lives. Maybe we’re even experiencing pain or anguish in this very moment. Because of the Resurrection, all of these experiences can actually bring about good. First, we can choose to unite them to Christ’s suffering. In doing so we participate in not only our own redemption but the redemption of the world. St. Paul said, “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24). Not that Christ’s suffering and death was incomplete, but He chose to make space in those sufferings for us to unite our own pain to His. And we can do that precisely by making the choice to give him our sorrows on this earth.

Even more personally, through suffering, our own salvation can be furthered and secured. Although it is difficult and frankly, oftentimes really, really sucks, God can and often does use our own pain to bring us back to Him. If we let Him, God will use these experiences to make us more virtuous, less selfish, more aware of eternal realities, and more dependent on Him. This is true even if you don’t feel or see it happening. 

Finally, the Resurrection of Christ means that our own bodies will someday be resurrected. This is a hard mystery to grasp for sure, but at the end of this world God will raise us up physically and give us perfect, glorious bodies. This is cause for hope, because our own bodies on this earth are weak and imperfect. Some of us struggle with chronic sicknesses. Some of us have disabilities that impose limitations on our life. Some of us experience pain on a daily basis. But, because of the Resurrection, someday our bodies will be perfected and these disabilities, sicknesses, limitations, aches and pains, fatigue will be healed, and our bodies will be strong and beautiful.

I guess that’s my takeaway from meditating on the Resurrection – death has lost it’s sting and now we have no reason to fear but cause to HOPE! As St. Paul said so eloquently in 1 Corinthians (15:55-57):

“Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?” 

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.   

Thanks be to God, indeed!