Cleaning out our spiritual junk rooms Print
Everyday Faith

Everyday Faith column by Julianne Nornberg

"So, what's in this room?" a friend asked once, when she was visiting us long ago.

She opened the door to our very cluttered "junk room," saw the teetering piles of mail, unfinished projects, and general chaos, and laughed.


I was mortified. Although the rest of our home had been cleaned for company, my friend had discovered the one hidden area specifically designated for clutter.

Hidden junk rooms

I suppose it's human to have a "junk room" somewhere in our lives, whether it is a physical one in our house -- a place to catch all those projects we just can't get to immediately -- or a spiritual one in our hearts -- a hidden place in which we try to excuse our deepest or recurring sins.

Spiritual junk rooms are much more serious than physical ones, of course. If left untended and the deepest sins are left unconfessed for too long, spiritual junk rooms can fester and spread to other areas of our lives.

Cleaning spiritual junk rooms

Going to our spiritual doctor -- Christ through the priest -- is the only way to root out the infection of sin, to clean out the cancer of our spiritual junk rooms.

Christ Himself gave us the gift of Confession in order to keep our souls clean here on earth.

It's up to us to use this gift and teach our children to use this gift regularly to keep the disease of sin from taking hold.

In Matthew 16:19 Jesus said, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

In addition to Confession, continual formation -- studying Church doctrine and pursuing virtue and evangelization -- and spiritual direction are imperative for everyone in order to maintain accountability and stop sinfulness from building up.

Church's junk room

With the surfacing abuse scandals in the past few months, the spiritual junk room of the Church itself has been revealed, and my heart has been crying out in anger, sadness, and disgust at unspeakable crimes committed by men in power in the Church.

Christ entrusted His Church to us here on earth. He gave His life for us, and this horrible sinfulness is the best we can offer Him? My heart screams with great shame, indignance, and sorrow for victims. How can we go on in the face of such scandal, such evil?

Holding onto the Truth

The answer is this: By holding onto the Truth. Christ's Truth, Christ's Church, is untouched by men's sins, even holy men to whom He entrusted it. Though some men fail, the Truth of Church teaching remains the same.

"We cannot have resurrection without going through the crucifixion," a friend reminded me recently. These are dark days indeed for the Church. But the Truth will shine through. "And the gates of Hades will not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).

So with my eyes fixed on Christ, I continue to teach the Truth to my children, my hope for the future.

Pray for an increase of faith

During this current crisis, pray for an increase in faith. And trust. And hope in the Lord, who will never abandon His Church, nor those who have suffered, nor the many good and faithful men who continue to serve Him.

Remember the words of J.R.R. Tolkien: "Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."

In other words, as St. Teresa of Calcutta said, "If you want to change the world, go home and love your family."

By preserving the Catholic faith with our own children -- living out His Truth through our everyday actions -- Christ's Church will always survive.

Pray for purification of all spiritual junk rooms -- and for the grace to go through it.

Julianne Nornberg, mother of four young children, is a member of St. John the Baptist Parish, Waunakee.