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Catholic Spiritual Direction

To Clean Or Not to Clean

April 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Carmelite Sisters, Spiritual Life

Yes, it is the time of year that we are faced with the grim reality of spring cleaning. The boxes that haven’t been touched in years need to be opened, the clothes that are no longer in fashion need to be donated, and the never-ending cleaning list needs to be completed. Unless you go against the grain and find great satisfaction in organization and cleanliness and in the whole process of getting to this state, you are like most Americans who do not find great joy in spring cleaning. It can often be a tedious process that requires dedication and discipline.

Although cleaning a house or an office can be an overwhelming task, have we ever thought about other areas of our life that might need “spring cleaning”? Oftentimes, this type of clean up can be more difficult and daunting that the physical spring cleaning because it requires more determination, thoughtfulness, and resolve to change. A messy cabinet can be easily solved with a box, a trash can, and a rag with soapy water. Our relationships, moral life, and spiritual life, on the other hand, are much more difficult to renew, but the rewards are great in the end.

The three areas mentioned above–our relationships, moral lives, and spiritual lives–all have their foundation in love of others, our Lord, and the laws set forth by our Lord. We know that the Blessed Trinity is the source of all that is good, of all that is pure, including love. Therefore, it is only fitting for us to approach God and ask Him to enlighten our minds to see the areas He wishes to make clean again. As hard as we try to correct our mistakes or make improvements, our efforts are fruitless without His grace. Therefore, we should first approach Him in prayer. During this time of prayer, we can feel confident and safe revealing all areas of our life to Him. Remember, He already knows everything about us! “He has even counted the hairs on your head”! And yet, we sometimes pull back and do not allow Him to enter, to see us for who we really are.

I once heard a talk by a gentleman who described this type of situation. He said that when we invite people over for dinner, we make everything appear to be perfect; we push all of the children’s toys in the closet, we light a candle to make the room smell nice, and we put out the most interesting magazines on the table to fit the person we would like to appear to be. Yes, we have all been there before. Our Lord though, is unlike other guests. He is willing to enter into our lives, as broken and messy as they may seem, in order to reveal the depth of His love for us. He came to this earth and ate at the houses of sinners and associated Himself with the lowly. He showed to us that He is more powerful than any illness, any sin, any fear. If we understand the magnitude of His love and power, why are we afraid to reveal all to Him?

When we learn to approach Him and reveal all to Him, we will begin to more clearly see the direction that He wishes us to follow. For each of us, our spring cleaning will take different forms. For someone, it may mean making a lifestyle change in order to live a moral life. For others, they may need to begin a regular prayer life or return to the sacrament of Reconciliation. Still others may need to find healing and forgiveness because of a previous situation. Whatever the situation may be, our focus should be on the Lord and His gentle movements in our lives. Keep remaining patient and steadfast. Does a thorough, [spiritual] spring cleaning take place overnight? This does not usually happen. Instead, it requires dedication, persistence, and determination, but we can hope and pray that one day we will be able to echo the words in Saint Paul’s second letter to Timothy, “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Let us turn to Him and let the cleaning commence.

Art:  Spinweave, with water drops, 30 September 2007, own work, Wusel007, CC; “PD-Mop”, 25 March 2010, Mop.png AwOc, derivative work: Blleininger [mirror]; PD-Worldwide, Wikimedia Commons.

Originally posted by the Carmelite Sisters on their site.  Post and logo used with permission.

 

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About Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles

PROMOTING A DEEPER SPIRITUAL LIFE THROUGH HEALTHCARE, EDUCATION AND RETREATS. The way of life of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles is rooted in the Gospel, the Church, and the spirituality of Carmel as lived out through the charism of our foundress, Venerable Mother Maria Luisa Josefa of the Most Blessed Sacrament. In His merciful goodness, God has graced our Institute with the Carmelite charism which has its foundation in a long history and living tradition. Our vocation is a grace by which contemplation and action are blended to become an apostolic service of the Church as we promote a deeper spiritual life among God’s people through education, healthcare, and spiritual retreats. We are called by God to be a presence inflamed within our world, witnessing to God’s love through prayer, joyful witness and loving service. Our mission flows from each sister’s profound life of prayer as Mother Luisita, our foundress, wrote “the soul of each Carmelite raises herself to Christ, Who is her heaven, while her shadow falls in charity upon earth doing good to all people.”

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  • Gina

    This is a very kindly gentle beautiful guidance…being in the Lord truly brings a much longing experience of true peace, worldly matters and inner turmoils just simply melts away….

  • judeen

    on our spiritual walk … we learn to spring clean… like gossip…? why do we care if people gossip about us… it is powers and pricipalities that are our enemys…. so we ask our selves .. why does it hurt me? it is not about the person who gossiped but what is in my heart that makes me feel bad…. pride, vanity, … aquestion we ask our selves that we need to get rid of…. humbleness is the goal… and loving my neighbor and my enemy, and forgiveness… sin against us can force us to strive to go into a deeper union with God to deal with the problem… and when we are clean.. and the spring cleaning of our hearts is done.. flowing water comes from it… like perfumn… the HOLY SPIRIT

  • patricia

    What a beautiful and helpful post. Spring cleaning of our souls seem the hardest that is why to have a good confessor and spiritual director is so important. Sometimes we don’t see spots or stains on our souls. To have a deep cleaning is to be willing to have someone to point out your errors and faults. Thanks for sharing. God bless you!

  • Renee Costello

    I’m trying to wrap my head around this because I think it’s important as I’m really trying to discern the direction I’m supposed to follow at this point in my life. I think what you are saying is that one needs to look at one’s own faults and not try to
    sweep them under the rug or hide them from God, as He knows all about them
    anyway. To discern God’s will we need to remember our faults during prayer and ask Him what we need to do to follow His will and become closer to Him and also ask for the grace to do this. Is that essentially what you are saying?

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  • MarcAlcan

    That is simply beautiful!

    Down under, the days are getting colder and shorter and the leaves are at their most beautiful – almost like a last hurrah to life.
    But as anyone knows, cleaning is a round the year activity.
    It is almost comparable to the examen that we do at night – a taking stock of the days of spring and summer that has been. A wondering – did I spend all that vibrant time of my life in service of My Lord? Or was it all about me? In the long cold days of winter – will His warmth be what sustains? Will the death that we see in autumn and winter be death to self that in spring we may rise with the Lord.