By Theresa Montminy
Every group has their rules – including parishes and schools, councils and committees, and formation programs. Rules keep order and allow us to come together effectively and collaboratively.
Unfortunately, rules (and discipline) often have a bad reputation in our minds. We hear that discipline is limiting, burdensome, painful and to be avoided. But if that is what discipline seems to represent, then we may have forgotten what it really means.
Through discipline, we become better disciples . . . better followers of Jesus. When we associate discipline with discipleship, then it becomes a firm commitment to do whatever is demanded of us to further God’s kingdom here on earth.
During this season of Lent, perhaps, we can explore our call to discipleship by reaching out to enter into the spirit of the season in very real ways. Let’s take the example of household duties;
Scrubbing is spiritual . . . Household duties properly focused and completed with happiness when offered up to God are actually beautiful prayers of thanks giving for all HE has given us. Here are a few examples of how ordinary house-cleaning tasks can become spiritual exercises:
Cleaning your house: Scrubbing, sweeping, dusting, washing . . . may not seem a likely channel for spiritual growth, but we can use these tasks, like any other, to enter into the Lenten season and help ready our hearts for Jesus.
When washing . . . reflect on the water you use. Without water there is no life on this earth. Every drop of water holds the breath of God’s creative Spirit. Be mindful of how you and your family use this precious resource and take a moment to pray for those who don’t have clean water. What can you do this Lent to help bring safe, clean water to places where it is desperately needed?
When cleaning the kitchen . . . remember that this, too, is an act of love. It’s more than scrubbing surfaces and throwing out stuff from the refrigerator that you can’t identify anymore. It’s about more than food safety and shiny counters. It helps your family be your family. It is serving others. It is discipleship in action.
When clearing the pathways into your home . . . remember that these are the places through which you welcome others. In Lent, as in Advent, we are preparing to welcome Jesus into our heart, we are making straight HIS paths. As you clean these places, give thanks for all the ways Christ comes to you on these pathways – all the opportunities they give you to be welcoming, to practice patience, to reach out to others.
The water, the home, the kitchen, the yard and garden that we take for granted during the rest of the year can become the work of our hands offered up in prayer.
When we consciously choose to be a disciple, we choose to be in relationship with God and others. As a faith family, let us join together and journey to Easter through the 40 days of Lent following the example of the Hebrews who journeyed for 40 years in the desert to the Promised Land. Let our prayers reflect our commitment to impact families, neighborhoods and society so that people’s lives are filled with hope!
Theresa Montminy is Director of Mission Advancement in the Diocese of San Bernardino.