This week, Fr. Isaiah Mary will take over. Enjoy! ~ Fr Michael
The Priory of Saint Albert the Great is where the Dominicans from the West Coast train for full-time ministry. In back of the building we have acres of fauna and streams. A few years ago one of the older friars decided to build a compost pit.
Every time I would pass by the pit I would revert to feeling like a five-year-old. Here is this pit, full of grass clippings, weeds, dead flowers, refuse from the kitchen, banana peels and orange slices, newspapers and worms: The decomposition of the twigs and petals, the stench of the decaying plant matter and everything else that gets rejected from the pristine decor of the house of studies. There were often times when a part of me would need to quickly walk away from the warm pile of filth—else I would find my day wasted by gazing at a pit of waste.
We look at weeds much the same way we look at sin: Both are things we are afraid to talk about. They are ugly, annoying, always in the way of greater beauty.
compost pile – Not at St. Albert’s!
However, in a manner of speaking, weeds and sin get a bad rap. Look at the compost pile. In order to make really effective compost (according to Priory Scientist Fr. Emmanuel) you need organic matter, like banana peels, coffee grounds, etc., along with inorganic material, like heat, oxygen and a tad of water. In other words, to make really good compost, you need organic waste, cooperating with heat, oxygen and water. But that is not all. What is most essential is some sort of catalyst to make the ingredients start working together.
In order to have a healthy and progressing life in the Spirit, you need many of the same things. We need to know how we sin. Pride, jealousy, holding gripes, complaining, the list goes on and on. You need humility, self-awareness and self-knowledge in order to have a flourishing spiritual life. In other words, you need a firm grip on yourself. But you also need things that are (in a sense) outside yourself. You need the heat (fire) of the Holy Spirit who is always intruding into your life. You need the oxygen (breath) of life coursing through your veins. You need the waters of baptism splashed on your head. For a flourishing life in the Spirit, a Christian needs his or her intimate knowledge of sin as well as the presence of God.
Then, and only then, can the catalyst of the Sacrament of Reconciliation work within the Christian, making the person the Saint of Light that we are called to be.
However, that is the rub. So many times we would go to Confession, go over our laundry list, and leave the confessional as though nothing had happened. However, Jesus tells us to “sin no more.” Are we willing to “sin no more” or are we just content with “sinning in only these five ways?” However—we are called to be saints. We are called to be holy. We are called to be extraordinary. Mediocrity is not part of the Christian job-description.
Are we willing to use our sins and our vices as compost for a greater glory? Are we willing to use these terrible things that we do on a daily basis in order to learn how to be the saints that we are called to be? Will we cooperate with the sacramental grace of Confession to rid the weeds of our souls, so that our lives in the Spirit may flourish and make us saints?
The choice, as always, is ours.
~Fr. Isaiah Mary Molano, O.P.