Avoid ‘dog days of faith’ by examining channels of grace

| Father Charles Lachowitzer | August 18, 2016

Throughout the summers of my childhood, my dad would drive our family to one of the many lakes just north of St. Paul for an afternoon of swimming.

After the hot, muggy days of August, but before school started, my dad would make an announcement that ended swimming for the season: “Dog days!”

Dog days happen when lakes become choked with weeds and the water turns green with clumps of floating brown slime. I’ve noticed that some lakes have dog days all year round, and in the winter, even before the feast of St. Patrick, the ice is green.

But I’ve also noticed that dog days do not occur in water that has a moving stream. It seems the more the water moves, the clearer and fresher it stays.

‘Dog days of faith’

The image of flowing water helps us to avoid the dog days of faith, where our spiritual life becomes stagnant and choked with the preoccupations and distractions of life.

The dog days of faith can happen when we become this little pool unto ourselves — nothing coming in and nothing going out.

An ancient image for the life of faith is the Sea of Galilee. Flowing into the Sea of Galilee from the north is the Jordan River. The river also flows out at the sea’s southern shores. The Jordan River finally ends in another sea, but because nothing flows out of this sea, there is no life in it. It is aptly named the Dead Sea.

The Jordan River is a rich image for the sacrament of baptism, the beginning of our life of faith. A channel of grace is opened into our lives as the Holy Spirit moves within us.

Throughout our lives, the flowing waters of our baptism renew and strengthen us. These channels of grace continue throughout our participation in the sacramental life of the Church.

Inflow and outflow

In order for the waters of our baptism to flow through us, we would do well to look at how we keep open the channels of grace coming into our lives and how we keep open the channels of grace flowing out of our lives.

The channels coming into our lives include the sacraments, prayer and reflective study. When the spiritual graces coming into our lives are but a trickle and we still try to maintain huge outlets of loving others, we dry up.

Likewise, if we have these great channels of grace coming into our lives, but have too few channels going out, then we ourselves are another example of the Dead Sea.

Our spiritual life moves from baptism, through each step of life, through death and into the fullness of life in Jesus Christ. It is a spiritual pilgrimage in which we are called to keep moving, trusting that all along the way, the Holy Spirit will flow in us and through us and is ever with us.

We are encouraged, strengthened and renewed by the movement of grace coming into our daily lives. We are challenged, as well, to keep open the channels coming out of our lives as our witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As baptized members of the body of Christ, what we receive we are to give. We are called to be a people who share generously and who know self-sacrifice; a people of compassion who work for justice and the common good.

We are called to move continuously toward the heaven that is yet to come. All along this pilgrim way, God’s abundant grace flows into our lives, and our generous service flows out of our lives and into the Church and the world.

Whenever the life of faith seems stagnant, look at the inlet and look at the outlet; one or the other is clogged.

Evitar ‘los días de perro de fe’ por el examen de los canales de gracia

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