I live in the land of year-round yard work. And sometimes it gets old.
Last weekend the dead marigolds on one side and the weeds choking my rose bush on the other demanded attention. First stop, Home Depot Garden Center. We bought more ground cover and after looking at the flowers realized they had all died in our yard at some point so we moved along.
We quickly tore up the dead plants and planted the ground cover. Then it was time to weed. They were everywhere and I keep thinking that we had done this not too long ago and while planting pretty flowers was sort of fun this weeding was not.
It reminded me of the spiritual life. In the spiritual life, there is a constant need for maintenance or else you will become full of weeds.
The weeds fill in the bare spots in a garden and while they look green like the other plants, they are not what you really want in there. The weeds blend in and make it hard to determine what you are pulling up.
Sin is the same way. It disguises itself, hiding in our souls. And like weeds, some sin is easy to dig up while other sin is deeply rooted and requires more effort.
Of course, Catholics have a great help to getting rid of the weeds in our souls. We go to Confession or the Sacrament of Penance. That Catholic Show has a video about Confession, I Confess , which gives a good overview about the sacrament.
In a few weeks, on December 2, we will begin the season of Advent. I remember learning in elementary school that it was our time to ready for Jesus, “to make room in your heart for him.”
Advent is a time to get rid of the weeds in our spiritual lives, to clean our souls and get ready for our Savior. I know that traditionally many people go to Confession during Advent to prepare for Christmas. I like to go before Advent, to prepare for Advent.
Besides receiving the sacrament of Confession, getting into the habit of a daily examination of conscience is also helpful. One resource to use is the Daily Examen from St. Ignatius Loyola.
Each time we celebrate Mass and receive Communion our venial sins are taken away and we are given the chance to grow in holiness and love towards God and each other.
Weeding–whether the yard or our souls–takes effort. It also requires that we acknowledge that the weeds are present and must be taken care of or they will overwhelm us.
In the course of all the yard work I turned to my husband and said, “I think we should just start over.” And you know what, Penance is starting over!
Why not make time for it before the rush of December and “start over” so there is room in your heart for Jesus? I know I will.
If you need a refresher as to how to receive the sacrament, here are some resources:
- Confession Guide for Adults from the National Catholic Register
- An Examination of Conscience in Light of Catholic Social Teaching, from the United States Bishops
- An Examination of Conscience for Children , from Catholic Parents
- An Examination of Conscience for Teens, from LifeTeen
Copyright © 2012, Deanna Bartalini