Attending a daily mass this week with our new associate pastor, Fr Bolster, I was moved to tears by his words during the homily. He gently proposed a question: what if we protected our souls with the same fervor we have been protecting our bodies during this pandemic? We have been so careful and diligent with protecting ourselves from disease these past few months. We wear masks, stay in the house, and sanitize our hands constantly. But what if we put a ‘mask’ on our soul to protect it? What if we didn’t go out of the house out of fear of catching the virus, but instead for fear of sinning or offending God? What if we were contstantly sanitizing our soul the way we do our hands? He carried on to say he felt so strongly about this idea that he would now be available for confession an hour before every one of his weekday masses.
The Battle Over the Body
At our Encounter with Christ yesterday, we talked about the human body and how the saints realized their body was actually POG, property of God. They treated their bodies like the temple that it should be and a dwelling place for God. Meanwhile, they exercised privations like St John Vianney, who was rumored to make a pot of potatoes on Sunday, and eat one a day out of the pot (even though they were old and cold and had mold we are told; sorry it was just time to bust a rhyme).
Many saints slept on the floor and some barely slept at all. Some survived by eating no food, only partaking in the Eucharist. In any case, they exercised temperance that most people now would find extreme.
I have always struggled with fasting but wanted to lose some COVID weight, so I gave intermittent fasting a try. It hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be, but I wish my original intentions were simply to please God. I am quick to make a sacrifice so I look better but fasting to strengthen my spiritual muscles? Would that honoring the God who died for love of me have been first in my heart!
For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want.Galatians 5:17; NABRE
One friend compared wearing a mask to the reparation of wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes (@sackloth.and.masks on instagram.) Another friend and I talked about how the masks are a reminder that this place is not our home. Like a scapular, they keep us uncomfortable (if not vexed) and focused on Heaven as our destination.
One article I read recently discussed masks as the enemy’s plan to further dehumanize us, as he hates the image and likeless of God in the human face. As a fruit of the homily Fr B gave this week though, I now consider my mask (since I am stuck with it for a while) as a reminder to guard–ever so carefully–my mouth, since that is what could use sanitizing for me.
11 It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.” Matthew 15:11
Since I could use a little help in taking better care of what comes out of my mouth—whether it be gossip, complaining or germs—I will consider how it could aid in my spiritual health in this particular way.
Many people argue that we should be concerned about the barrage of chemicals we are soaking into our hands via countertops and door handles, even more than the dangers of the virus. Yet once again, if I need to “befriend” the overuse of hand sanitizer or Lysol in my daily life, I will now choose to let it remind me to cleanse the intentions of my soul as well.
“…wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” —Psalm 51:7
In our Encounter with Christ prayer meeting this week, our case was about the trend of tattoos. (Here is a video by Fr Mike Schmitz we discussed if you would like more information.) We discussed that we sometimes use our bodies to display of what seems to be happening in our hearts. Our conversation then progressed to how we can use our own bodies to magnifying the desire in our hearts to please God. We decided that we would make use of the frequent practice of hand-washing to represent our desire for clean hearts that please God.
How we will pray this week to increase the virtue of temperance and purity: Everytime we wash our hands, we will say the powerful Jesus prayer (I repeat it several times) with the intention of asking God to help us desire to have clean hearts before Him.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
How we will act to increase an awareness of temperance in ourselves and with others: We will acknowledge a young person in their gifts or talents in a sincere and direct way so they know they are known, loved and a gift from God.