Friday, March 25, 2011


Springtime for the soul
How are those New Year’s resolutions going? Are you sticking to them? Has your enthusiasm for them fizzled out? Or, has something happened to throw you off course?

Confronted with the death of someone I loved, my resolutions definitely diminished in importance and fizzled out. The long, dreary winter has done nothing to reignite my enthusiasm or inspire the discipline I need to get back on track. Happily, two events, the coming of spring and the liturgical season of Lent, come to my rescue and help me refocus.

Image courtesy of Freefoto
Spring fills the earth with new life. The warmth of the sun, the singing of the birds, and the  bursting forth of blossoms inspire us with energy.

With the coming of spring, our enthusiasm for projects grows. We want to make over a section of our gardens and renovate our homes. We want a beauty makeover complete with a fitness regime that will get our sluggish winter bodies into beach ready shape.

Lent: a spiritual makeover
Lent offers us the opportunity for a makeover of the spiritual variety.

The word “lent” is from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning “spring.” It has come to denote the forty days before Easter. Lent is a time for spiritual resolution during which Christians acknowledge their sinfulness.

The notion of sin is very much out of fashion in today’s society. We have set ourselves up as little gods and goddesses. Our ill informed consciences have become the ultimate authority over our behavior. There are no longer any moral absolutes. Like petulant children, we adopt the “You’re not the boss of me” attitude.

We do not like to admit that we sin. Confessing our sin is an admission that we are imperfect and in need of a make over.

Be holy as God is holy
We are made in the image and likeness of God who is holy and who invites us to be holy. A basic of Christian spirituality “is the willingness to accept the holiness that God offers us” (Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of Cincinnati). 

The holiness of God is the standard for our life. Numerous biblical passages reveal the character of God and show us how to be like God. These passages help us examine our conscience in a life giving way. Evaluating our conduct and attitudes is an instructive tool for spiritual renewal.

The Ten Commandments, for example, are a basic formulation of how to avoid conflict within our self. They provide practical advice on how to preserve good relations with others and within the community. The essence of the Law of Moses is “love your neighbour as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18) so that the self can be holy as God is holy.

Sometimes our sin lies not in what we have done, but in what we have failed to do. Love of neighbour goes beyond avoiding sin. It requires action. Jesus tells us that it is not enough to cry “Lord, Lord.” We have to bear fruit. One way we bear fruit is by responding to the needs   of others in charity and humility.

The Good Samaritan

Lent is a good time to examine our motives and conduct. We should also examine our inaction. Have I fed the hungry, given drink to the thirsty, clothed the naked, visited the lonely, comforted the suffering? (Matthew 25:35-37) Have I given willingly of my time, treasure, and talent? Have I at least tried to be the image of the holy, compassionate God?

Lent: a time for conversion and renewal
The conversion of our heart begins when we honestly examine our self and admit that we are sinners. This interior transformation liberates. It creates space for growth and for a renewed relationship with God and others.

Lent is like spring-cleaning. It is a time to sweep out the dust from under the bed, discard items we were once attached to, and wash the windows clean of dirt that obscures the light.

Lent is a spiritual make over, prompting renewal of the most profound resolutions of the heart. It is springtime for the soul!

(You might enjoy Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk's program  "Sharing the Word"  available at


cmm said...

"Lent is a good time to examine our motives and conduct. We should also examine our inaction."
What is your take on good samaritan legislation? (e.g.

Louise McEwan said...

As I understand it, Good Samaritan legislation prevents someone who renders aid in an emergency situation from being sued for wrongdoing. It seeks to ensure that an individual will not be overly reluctant to help in an emergency for fear of being sued.

My take on it is this. We should help where we can, but we need to prudently evaluate an emergency situation before jumping into assist. I do not think faith requires that we put our self in a position of physical danger, although there may be times when we choose to do so.

When I wrote the line you quoted, I was thinking of social justice issues. It is interesting you raise the Good Samaritan doctrine, though, because at a workshop on social justice last year, this very topic arose.

People felt strongly that you should help and not worry about the consequences to yourself, while others felt just as strongly that you should think about your safety first.

Legislation is not the final authority on morality. I think evaluating our action or inaction must be done according to right principles, which for me are based on Gospel values. What is God calling me to and have I responded faithfully?