You should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires and be made new in the spirit of your minds and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth. Ephesians 22-24In my own prayer and reflection, I was feeling neglectful about my preparation for the holy season of Lent. With the renovation of the Church at hand, I have been so focused on that project, I felt it hard to concentrate on where we were being spiritually called during this time. Thankfully the Holy Spirit continues to work without us knowing it. The physical renewal of my parish church is the symbol I needed to focus on the spiritual mission that is at hand for us in the weeks ahead.
In this passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we can see how the physical and the spiritual journey come together for us this Lent. “Be made new,” means to renovate. Renovation is a process. It is not an instantaneous, single-moment event. It begins with demolition. For the first two weeks of our building process a literal demolition occurred. As we begin the season of Lent we are mindful that God is calling us to demolish old lies, bad habits and destructive patterns. Demolishing the walls of grudge, mistrust and avarice is difficult but necessary work for the renovation of the soul. The first step to being made new – being renovated – is demolition of the old to make way for the new.
As hard as demolition may be, the rebuilding is a longer process that takes planning, time and patience. In two weeks the basic framework of our renovation has taken shape. The vision of what will be has begun to take shape. This framing out of our renovation followed a process of planning, listening and taking inventory of our financial assets. As we begin these weeks of Lent we commit ourselves to what we need to tear down but we pray for the guidance to imagine, envision and plan for new life in our relationship with God. We can plan a structure that will involve the giving up of things and taking up of others like prayer, fasting and alms-giving. We need to ask ourselves what is our plan for spiritual renovation. What vision do we have for our lives and our relationship with God? What structure or framework will help us see that vision fulfilled.
In the weeks and months ahead our renovation will proceed if our workers remain on task, don’t meet too many obstacles and keep a deadline in mind, so too in our spiritual renovation. We will need to remain on task, be prepared to meet temptation and obstacles and live with a deadline in mind; Easter is coming. We are mindful of not just the deadline of Easter but our own mortality. Our lives on earth will end, we will be called home to God and will present back to Him the lives we have built.
With my parish community I am I mindful that we are “Under Construction for Lent.” Our renovated Church will be a blessing for us in our future, but its process of renovation blesses us now. Standing as a wonderful physical reminder of our shared commitment to be made new, to be renovated during this holy and sacred season of Lent.
Pope Benedict XVI - The surprising news of the Holy Father’s renouncing of his position of Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church is very much an example of renovation. In his own personal reflection, the Pope realized that he could not serve as he believed the Church needed the successor of Peter to be and so he makes way for the Holy Spirit to renew the Church. We pray for him and the historic process ahead.