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Lenten Demolition of Sin

On Word on Fire’s Chicago office, my coworkers and I have been driven to distraction lately. If you spent a few minutes in the office, you would see people leaving their cubicles to get up and stare out the window. You would see people pointing and hear the outburst of excited shouts. Once in a while, you might even feel the entire building slightly shaking.

No, this is not the beginning of a Godzilla movie, and we are not in any danger.

We have all been openly gaping at the ongoing demolition of the two adjacent buildings in our office park. We have a front-row seat to the meticulous destruction of these 2000s-era, structurally sound, multilevel office buildings that will soon make way for new one-story buildings to house data processing centers. And what a process it is!

As the demolition has unfolded over the past several weeks, I have been struck by how slowly and particularly the wrecking crew is going about its work. My uninformed compulsion would be to sprinkle a few sticks of dynamite throughout the two buildings, pop some popcorn, start the countdown, and watch them fall. Instead, the first week of action saw just one segment of one building taken down. They even took the time to individually break each one of the windows in the building before the wrecking ball began swinging.

And the wrecking ball, while powerful, is not having the easiest time breaking through the concrete and metal walls of these relatively new buildings. Once it does, the demolition is put on hold again, as construction trucks move in to clean up the colossal mess on the ground in the wrecking ball’s wake.

And so we’ve all been riveted to this slow and steady process, hoping to be looking out the window at the right time to watch in awe as the wrecking ball satisfyingly hits its mark and a particularly large chunk of the building hits the ground in a cloud of dust—making our own building literally shudder at the thought of such a fate.

Since I work for Word on Fire and we are now in the heart of Lent, I can’t help but turn this demolition project into a spiritual metaphor.

As we engage in the Lenten practices of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, we are hopefully examining the blueprints of our lives and finding those structurally unsound areas that would best be visited by the wrecking ball of spiritual mortification.

Rooting out sin is a difficult and arduous process that often has to be as staged and slow as the demolition of these buildings. Unfortunately, there is no dynamite solution for our sinful tendencies. The best we can do is more frequently avail ourselves of God’s unending mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but if you’re anything like me, you’re quickly traipsing back to the confessional, getting déjà vu as you confess a frustratingly similar list of transgressions.

So what can we do to make our Lenten demolition more destructive (in a good way) so that it clears space for the new construction of positive habits and Christ-centered living? Here are a few ideas.

Read more at Word on Fire 

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