Catholic at Home: On the road to Jesus

Catholic at Home

Jennifer Antkowiak

Spring cleaning with snow still outside is strange.  That’s how we do it sometimes in western Pennsylvania, though.  An old family picture that always makes us smile features my husband and his brother as young boys, all dressed for Easter Sunday Mass, standing in front of a snowbank as high as their waists.

Snow or not, freshening up our homes makes us feel good.  I have friends who use the “cleaning” theme of the Lenten literally by participating in “40 Bags in 40 Days Challenges.”  The idea is to de-clutter, one bag at a time, so that you can enjoy Easter in a home that feels light, bright, open and airy.

Choosing to gather up a bag a day for donation or the garbage takes commitment and focus. You’ve got to carve out time for the work. That may mean finding time by letting go of a TV show or curbing social media surfing. If the payoff of your commitment to clean feels worth it, you find a way to get it done.

Think of the “payoff of a commitment” to clearing our internal homes—our hearts and souls— to make room for Jesus. How much easier life is when we are focused on and confident in the fact that He walks with us, always.

The Lenten season is often referred to as a journey, and I’ve been taking to heart all of the “road trip” analogies that help us enter into this season.

In a moving Ash Wednesday homily, Bishop David Zubik spoke of Jesus’ three-point plan for helping us get to heaven—our map.  Whenever we make a wrong turn and get lost, he said, we find our way back with GPS: G- Good works, P- Prayer, and S- Sacrifice.

And then, on the first Sunday of Lent, I was brought to tears by a homily from Father Daniel Aboagye Adjei at Saint Joseph the Worker Parish.  He shared that no matter how many wrong turns we take, or how lost we feel, we can always make U-turn and come back home.

In fact, Father Daniel reminded us, when we feel the most lost, Jesus moves in closer. “Jesus is always waiting for you with arms wide open. He is waiting for you to come and drink from the ocean of His mercy,” he said.

Cleaning our hearts and clearing our minds of distractions allows us to wake up and focus our attention on Him and the comfort, peace, and love that come through Him. In a very practical way, after the year we’ve all been through, taking advantage of this time to clear our minds and hearts is needed for our physical health as well as our spiritual health.

I was eager to hear how people in our diocese are spring cleaning their lives to make room for Jesus on this journey to Easter Sunday. That was the focus for our Views from the Pews question this week.  We heard from many people in our Facebook and Instagram communities:

Angela said, “I am so happy to let Jesus direct all of my actions this Lent, starting by being kind to everyone I encounter.”

Mary commented, “I have gotten the Bible out and I am reading it every day.  I am also reaching out to give positive help by phone to people who are hurting.”

“Carlow U. sends a daily reflection that I read and reflect upon,” Teresa said.

His arms are wide open, waiting for you to make a U-turn and come back home.  Will you?