Letting Go... The Franciscan Challenge

Spring Cleaning of the Best Kind

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Spring is just around the corner, and we are being teased even now with warmer days. You may have already started putting away boots, heavy jackets, scarves, and gloves. Have you been inspired yet to do some spring cleaning? We all know how to do that kind of cleaning. Open the windows for fresh air, wash the windows, dust, and maybe even rearrange the furniture. It is time, too, to let go of more stuff! Yet there is more to do…

This very early spring we seem to be having coincides with an unusually early Lent, which is an excellent time to do a spiritual spring cleaning. Psalm 51 says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me…” and “…wash me and I will be whiter than snow…” That sounds pretty bright and clean to me. Just as we clean our room or house, we need to clean out our “spiritual house” so we can become receptive to God’s love.

What is “a spiritual spring cleaning”? We need to clean out our hearts and souls. It is looking inside of ourselves to decide what we should keep or let go. What is cluttering our minds and hearts that keeps us from opening up to God’s love? In Deuteronomy 6:5 we read, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”    

To keep it simple, we need to ask ourselves three questions.

  1. What needs to go?
  2. What can I give away?
  3. What needs some love and attention?

Our spiritual vision can become smudged and messy when we start believing that we are not “good enough,” capable or worthy. We need to wipe away such doubts and allow the Son to shine, warming our heart, refreshing our mind, and reminding us that we are loved, forgiven, and precious in God’s sight. We are to let the light of Christ burn brightly for everyone to see. You know how much brighter your home is when the windows are squeaky clean! So, let’s get going on our spiritual spring cleaning and let your heart’s light—the Light of Christ—shine out into our world.

Overcoming Feelings of Jealousy and Envy

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Recognizing that you are experiencing feelings of jealousy and envy is a beginning to do something about it. Our culture makes idols of success, possessions and wealth. If we have these, we will be happy. Not necessarily true. There are many successful and wealthy people but they are some of the most unhappy people in the world, not because they are successful or wealthy but because they make idols of these things. I have learned that the main causes of jealousy and envy are a poor self-image and a lack of gratitude.

People who have a poor self-image look to success and wealth and possessions to make them feel better about themselves. They want others to see how successful they are. Unfortunately, people are never satisfied. There is always the desire to want more. When is it enough? Our self worth comes from the God who created us, not what we own or possess.

A lack of gratitude makes us focus on what we do not have, rather than on what we do have. When we are grateful, we focus on the blessings in our own lives. The glass is half full rather than half empty. When we appreciate and express gratitude, our life glows brighter and we are showered with more blessings and I believe we are a lot happier.

What steps can you take toward taming your jealousy and envy? First, begin a gratitude journal. Each day write down three things, people, situations, etc. that you are grateful for. It can be as simple as someone giving you a smile or a driver letting you in their lane. Second, focus on relationships not things. Bring kindness and generosity to these relationships. Just because others may have more or seem more successful does not take away from your value as a person. And you will find that relationships are more fulfilling and lasting than possessions and success.

Photo by Obie Fernandez on Unsplash

Change Ahead in the New Year

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“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul…”
—Gilbert K. Chesterton

What an interesting concept for the New Year. We start this New Year with the feast of Mary, Mother of God. Who better than God’s Mother to help us into this New Year for our General Chapter/Elections and for the political elections? These are only a few of the things we know will be happening in this year of grace, 2024! We are standing on a precipice of new adventures for not only our Community but for our country and our world. Going into a New Year we need to let go of the past to begin our future.

Only God knows what the outcomes will be, but we trust in God’s wisdom and grace. Our faith is the key to the New Year. Without it we will stumble and even fall! Placing our hands into God’s hands assures us of safely walking with God into the future with a new soul.