Thoughts from Msgr. McDermott
How are we supposed to become the good soil we heard about in the Gospel this past weekend? How do we produce a spiritual harvest 30 or 60 or 100 fold? I’m not sure that I have the fool-proof advice to achieve this spiritual bounty, but I’ll offer a few suggestions for us to consider. There is nothing new or earth-shattering in these suggestions, but some tried and true avenues for growing to maturity in faith.
First, pray every day. Seems like a no-brainer, but the discipline of regular and daily prayer is not always as easy as it sounds. By prayer, I mean setting some time (5 minutes, 10 minutes) aside each day and give it to God. We might spend the time praying for others. We might sit quietly and ask the Lord to speak to our hearts. We may use a devotional book to help us stay focused on God. Whatever the method, whatever the length of time, we need to pray every day. It is this discipline that keeps us attune to God working in our lives.
Second, read and pray with Scripture. Our bibles should not be collecting dust on the shelf but should show some evidence that they have been used. The scriptures are God’s word to His beloved children. Whether we read the bible in a very orderly and pre-determined fashion, or whether we just open it up and read what is before us, there are lessons to be learned and re-learned contained in every book of the bible. Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ (St. Jerome), so if we don’t won’t to be ignorant of Christy, let’s read the scriptures.
Third, read some other spiritual books or good literature. Devotional books, lives of the saints, books on prayer, theology, literature rooted in a Christian world view (e.g. Graham Greene, JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Flannery O’Connor, etc.) all of these are means for our minds and hearts to be expanded to recognize the presence of God in our lives. Good literature helps us wrestle with the big questions of life and help us turn ever closer to God.
Four and five, celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation and receive Holy Communion. When we come before the Lord admitting our failure in faith and sins, we experience the mercy God alone can give and it helps us avoid the same pitfalls time and time again. Also, the more we experience God’s mercy, the more merciful we become toward others. We recognize that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives of faith. In the reception of Holy Communion, we receive the gift that helps us become more like the one we receive. It transforms us so that we can become the presence of Christ in the world and in the lives of others. What a wondrous gift.
Finally, look for ways to get out of ourselves and sacrifice for others. During Lent this is sometimes easier to focus on, but it should be part of our everyday lives. When we do for others, when we sacrifice some of our comforts to provide of the needs of others, it shows that we are embracing the call we receive from Jesus to save our lives by losing them; remember, He came to serve and not be served.
If we can embrace these simple steps, I think we will become more and more the good soil of the gospel parable and be true witnesses of Christ to the world.
Stay well and God bless,
Msgr. John McDermott
Vicar general, Diocese of Burlington