As we enter into Ordinary time it is an opportunity for us to reflect on the “status-quo” of our spiritual life. Changing seasons within the Church reminds us that our life must always be filled with change. This can be disconcerting to many of us who would rather like things to stay comfortable. Change implies that our spiritual life needs to head in a different direction, it means that we haven’t got it all figured out quite just yet. No one on earth has it figured out quite just yet, because none of us are perfect…yet.
Changing our hearts is probably the greatest task that requires the most amount of effort on both God’s part and our own part. A heart that is not willing to stretch itself, to become more loving, more attuned to the Spirit, is a heart that is hard. This is why we are called to daily conversion, just as the seasons of the Church change, so must our heart constantly and daily be open to a change.
Now, if I were to leave this reflection entirely abstract it might appear that such a task is reasonable and easy. We might choose to interpret it in a way that is safe, and costs us little sacrifice in our actual life. So I won’t leave it abstract. Here are some concrete things we can do to change our heart.
Forgive a person you have a grudge against or one who has a grudge against you. Offer them an olive branch, extend to them a favour without being asked. It should hurt when you do it…that is the interior feeling of stretching the muscles of your heart to make your love bigger. Just like any work-out in the gym, a little pain means actual progress is being made.
Go to confession. As Catholics priests have the authority to forgive, and the sacrament itself is healing. Grow in the humility and fortitude it takes to confess your actual sins, and stop cowering in darkness and the lie of “self-absolution.” God is pleased with one who humbles himself before his mercy, and will bestow his mercy on such a one.
Open the scriptures. St. Jerome teaches that ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ. Go to a bible study, learn more about your faith. Don’t be content with what you know, as if that is all you need. Develop a hunger to know more about God. Read up on the faith… Fall in love with Him again.
Read works of the saints, or books about their lives. Be inspired by people who got it right. Stop living a life where you compare yourself to others. Such an attitude leads to a life of mediocrity and false-humility. Strive for what God can do in all of us: make you into a saint.
Serve the poor. Go to a homeless shelter, soup-kitchen, or even take the time out to sit with the homeless and get to know them. Christ in a very unique way resides in the poor. Seek the face of Christ in those who you might fear or judge.
Pray at adoration, grow in your devotion to our Lord in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Did you know that the very moment when Jesus died is present on the Altar every time we celebrate mass? Close your eyes before the Eucharist and imagine you are kneeling before your Brother and God who is pouring out his blood for you. Let your heart be penetrated by such love, don’t let it stay hard.
Develop a deeper relationship with our Blessed Mother, who knows Christ better than any other human. Ask her to teach you to grow in your relationship with Christ.