Today is ash Wednesday, it is the first day of lent and so is a day that we may reflect on our spiritual well being and decide to make some special effort over the next 6 weeks to do a bit of a clean up! I gave this teaching before in Australia, looking at spiritual health by comparing it with something that we are all familiar with, our dental health!
Often we hear about that perfect smile and when we look into our mouth we can pick out the areas where work is needed. Signs of problems include bad breath, yellow stains, black spots, build up of tartar, bleeding gums etc. while signs of health include fresh breath,, white teeth, strong healthy gums…
As we take a moment to think of our souls the Bible tells us what is unhealthy and what is healthy in Galatians Chapter 5!
“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
Of course none of us are perfect but perhaps today would be good day for us all to look into the mirrors of our souls and to do a little ‘examination’.
Now God in His love and mercy has blessed us with the equivalent of a dental surgery, the Church and many dental surgeons and nurses in the form of priests, pastors, lay ministers and others. He has not left us either without practical remedies to stay healthy!
- Toothbrush : just as we brush our teeth twice a day, the Church advises that we pray at least twice a day, morning in evening asking God to guide and protect us during the day!
- Mouthwash: despite our best efforts a certain amount of bad stuff can attack our teeth, sugar or whatever! Similarly on any given day which one of us have not perhaps fallen into gossip or anger or whatever! Padre Pio recommended for this a daily examination of conscience and an act of contrition to God!
- Dental Floss: What better dental floss that the rosary, as we lovingly pray the rosary with the eyes and ears of our hearts open to the Holy Spirit, Our Lady will not be long in weeding out any piece of meat that many have got stuck in our teeth!
- Regular Check ups: Just as we visit the dentist regularly for a check up and even more regularly.
- Need a filling? : Bingo go to confession and bring that pain to Jesus!
- Root canal? : Some pains just don’t seem to go away, there are many priests and lay people with inner healing gifts and you may need a bit of specific deep healing prayer to heal that deep hurt!
And of course, healthy eating such as going to regular mass, Eucharistic adoration, reading spiritual books, attending Christian prayer groups, listening to Christian music and watching Christian films will go a long way in avoiding major problems! Needless to say watching pornography, listening to inappropriate music and watching inappropriate films will accelerate your health problems!!
Holiness in today’s world is a big challenge and God knows this, all He asks is that we do our best with the remedies that He has given to us and that when we fall short we run back to Him for help!
So this lent, what might you give up? or what perhaps might you take up?
God bless us all this lent, may He bring us closer to Him by taking away our desire for the pleasures of the world and filling us with zeal for things of the Spirit as we cooperate with His grace!