A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘clean heart

Recently I was watching the movie Leap Year again. In one scene, the female lead character, Anna, steps in a cow pie while wearing $600 shoes. And the male lead character, Declan, responds, “Just put ’em in the wash; they’ll be grand.”

Obviously, “the wash” isn’t the answer for some stains, like cow manure on $600 shoes, or melted crayon shoved in a pants pocket and exposed to the heat of the dryer, or dye in every colour of the rainbow transferred from black suede gloves to three or four white taekwon-do uniforms (the last two, alas, are examples from my treasure trove of laundry horror stories).

But when it comes to us and our sins, a good wash is just what we need, and just what David asks for in Psalm 51:2, 7*:

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

and cleanse me from my sin!

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

At my parish this week, someone returned to the Church after being away for many years, not wanting to spend any longer outside the Church. Returning to the Church involves celebrating the sacrament of Reconciliation so that we can have a clean heart–a clean conscience–before God. I know that when I first celebrated Reconciliation, I thought how wonderful it was to hear that all my sins up to that point were forgiven!

As we begin Holy Week, we can ask God to give us a clean heart, as David did, so that we may fully experience the joy of the Easter miracle this weekend. We can spend more time in God’s presence at Eucharistic Adoration, in prayer at home, at confession, and at the various Holy Week services. And we don’t have to give up the spiritual disciplines we’ve added to our lives for Lent just because this season of the liturgical year is drawing to a close.

As we approach Easter, may we bring to God the sacrifice he asks for: a broken and contrite heart (see Psalm 51:17) and a spirit willing to be cleansed and guided.

(*Scripture quotes and reference taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

December 12th it may be, but winter has arrived. The cold nipped at my nose when I put out the recycling this morning, and my bulldog rushed through her business to get inside for breakfast and snore in her comfy bed by the fireplace.

For some people, all this snow and cold weather deserve a “Humbug!” For winter lovers like me, it’s beginning to look and feel like Christmas.

With the shopping finally out of the way, I can relax and enjoy baking fruitcake and cookies, wrapping gifts, and of course trimming the tree (assuming my young cat, Pixie, won’t climb it and will limit her stealing to an ornament or two each day), but also lighting the candles on our Advent ring, listening to carols, and preparing my heart for Christmas.

Brass Advent ring

Candles for Advent

Recently I read in Ezekiel 11:19-20* and 36:26 about God’s plans to restore the exiled Israelites and cleanse them from their sins:

“And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will take the stony heart out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my ordinances and obey them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”

“A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

At this time of year, it seems we become more aware of others’ needs and wants and not only our own; of the real needs in and beyond our community for basics like food, shelter and warm clothing; of our need for the safety, dignity and peace that so many lack. If we’re willing to let our hearts be softened, we might just let God in to work in our lives to help meet these needs. And not only during the Advent season.

My prayer for all of us this Christmas is that we would ask, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). May we not harden our hearts but keep them open to his Spirit. And whatever the weather, may we anticipate the coming of Jesus to be God-with-us.

Bless the Lord, ice and cold,

sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.

Bless the Lord, frosts and snows,

sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever.

~ Daniel 3:49-50

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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