06 April 2009

Harvest Time!

It might seem funny to be talking about "harvest time" in a season where we should be planting and sowing seeds. This isn't a misplaced fall post, it's time for a "spiritual harvest!" St. Francis de Sales referred to Lent as yearly autumn for our spiritual lives. In a culture where we can buy fresh fruit in the grocery store -- at almost any time of year -- the notion of "harvest time" doesn't mean as much to us as it might have meant to someone in the 17th century. Autumn was the season when families would gather the fruits of their spring and summer plantings. They would try to secure provisions which would last them through until the first fruits of the next planting season were ready. Root cellars dug into hillsides would provide room to store unblemished vegetables for use in the winter months.

And so Lent is a time to gather spiritual fruits, the products of a grace-filled season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These fruits, St. Francis de Sales suggests, should nourish us throughout the coming year until Ash Wednesday heralds another season of spiritual harvest for us.

Whatever our spiritual discipline has been during these past five weeks, let us find a way to preserve its value in our lives. If we have been counting the days until we can once again indulge in chocolate or caffeine then, perhaps, our efforts to bend our will not to partake of something we enjoy may bear the fruit of helping us see the Lord's hand at work in situations which do not go our way. When we have practiced the work of choosing to deny our will -- be it to forgo a cup of coffee or to refrain from voicing a cherished opinion -- we are better equipped to respond graciously when we are faced with a situation over which we have no control. Perhaps our Lenten practice was an increased amount of prayer time. This fruit, if protected well, could serve to nourish us in ways beyond what we can imagine.

Let us strive to protect the spiritual fruit which we have gathered during this sacred season of Lent. May our spiritual "root cellars" be well tended and well guarded places where our Lenten harvest may be kept alive for months to come and may the harvest be abundant!

A blessed Holy Week to all our readers!

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