Sometimes when I drive around town I have this odd habit of checking out other cars’ tires. Sometimes they are low and really could use more air, sometimes they are nearly flat, and sometimes they are right where they should be, nice and plump and full of air. Most people know that when a car’s tires have the proper amount of air in them the car gets better gas mileage, which saves the owner money in the long run. Checking the air pressure in your tires is a good thing to do, not only for the safety of your tires and those riding in your car, but as a way to save money by getting better mileage.
The same is true for our spiritual life. We, like most cars, have four tires, or four pillars. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the four pillars as follows: The Profession of Faith, The Celebration of the Christian Mystery, Life in Christ, Christian Prayer. For the purposes of the analogy to tires I’d summarize the four pillars like this: The Meaning Behind Our Words, The Sacraments, Community and Fellowship, Prayer. Just as on a car each tire must be filled so that the car can progress forward, so too must each of our tires be filled so that we may continue forward on our journey to Heaven, and what better time than Lent to fill up your tires?
The Meaning Behind Our Words
All too often we say things that we don’t really mean. Other times we say words that we mean, but we fail to put them into action. We should always strive to say what we mean and mean what we say, lest this tire will go flat. It is crucial that our words ring true because your words, your witness could be the only time a person ever sees Christ. Will that person look up and see your false, meaningless words, or will they see the love of Christ flowing through you?
How close are you to the Sacraments? The Sacraments give us the grace and the drive to keep all of our others tires filled. The Sacraments are where we meet Christ, the source of the fullest tires of available. We meet Him and He not only breathes life into us, He breathes life into our tires, filling them up so that we can do more, go farther and get as close to Heaven as possible. Maybe this is the tire you need to fill up the most on during Lent. Been a while since you’ve been to confession? Go. I know you may not like confession, maybe you think it is better if you confess your sins to God instead of a priest, just cut out the middle man, right? Maybe, but there is nothing more healing than literally hearing the words spoken out loud, “You are forgiven.” I need to hear them, to accept His loving forgiveness as He acts through His priests. Visit www.masstimes.org to find a Catholic Church near you and figure out when they offer confessions. Most parishes will offer Lenten penance services with numbers of priests on hand so you can go confess your sins to a priest you don’t know.
Haven’t been to Mass lately? Check out that same website for Mass times at local parishes. Jesus waits in the tabernacle, He invites you to His last supper, He invites you to dine with Him, every single day. Join Him. Let Him fill your tires with air so they don’t end up flat and leave you stranded.
Community and Fellowship
I’ve said it before, you simply can’t have spirituality without religion or religion without spirituality. You can try all you want to divorce the two, but they need each other like peanut butter needs jelly (only way more intensely). We can’t have tires filled with the Sacraments and what we believe without living out our beliefs with other like-minded people. We need community and fellowship to build us up, to encourage us when we are struggling and to strengthen our hearts for the battle at hand. No man is an island and I can’t say that I’ve seen anyone driving a one-wheeled car to work lately.
This tire requires discipline. No one is really going to hold a gun to your head and tell you to pray (though I can bet that if someone is holding a gun to your head you will be praying whether they tell you to or not). Pray outside of Mass, pray outside of the Sacraments, outside of penance. Take an extra five minutes a day and pray. Take an extra hour of adoration once a week during Lent and spent time with our Lord. Read the daily readings if you can’t make it to Mass (click on the appropriate day on the calendar for each day’s readings). Read a chapter of the Bible. Journal. Pray the Rosary. Read a section of the Catechism. Write someone a nice letter each day of Lent telling them how much you appreciate them. Go to a Bible study (that can knock out prayer AND fellowship and community). Find a youth group or a young adult group to attend or help out with. Pray a novena. Read about the lives of the Saints. Fill yourself with God so that He may fill others through you.
This Lent, fill your tires with Christ. Fill them with all the richness of our beautiful Catholic faith so that not only will you get better mileage on your car and save time (because you won’t have to stop fix flats), but you will journey closer to Heaven and closer to the Heart of Christ. Isn’t that what Lent is all about?