The Need for Spiritual Maintenance

Here’s an interesting fact: it takes hundreds of pumps in the New York City subway system to keep water out of the tunnels. If those pumps did not receive regular maintenance and if they suddenly stopped working, the subway tunnels would be flooded within thirty-six hours. Thirty-six hours! That’s a lesson on how important maintenance is for keeping things functioning well.

Cars deteriorate without regular maintenance. That’s why we routinely change the oil and filters, check the tires, and take the car to a mechanic if it starts making a funny noise. What would happen to your house if you didn’t repair a small leak in the roof, replace a faulty window, or check on your furnace? I admire the pilots who fly all our airplanes, but I equally admire all the mechanics who do the maintenance on those planes. In addition to cars, houses and planes, human beings need maintenance too. And so we brush and floss our teeth, shave, wash our hair, file our nails, exercise, eat healthy food, get a flu shot, and see our doctor regularly.

Our spiritual life needs regular maintenance too.  There are many small things we can do on a consistent basis that can help keep our faith healthy and strong. One aspect of our spiritual maintenance is, of course, prayer. This means we direct our mind and heart to God each day. We remind ourselves that God is “in the mix” of all that is happening in our life.  Going to church regularly is another part of the maintenance plan for our faith. Some people go to church only on special occasions or when their lives are falling apart. It’s important that we attend church even on ordinary Sundays and when our lives are going well. Faith is not just for special times or hard times; it’s for all times.

We maintain ourselves spiritually also by reading scripture—especially the psalms, the gospels, and those letters to the early Christian community. We read other spiritual things too. The fact that you are reading this blog entitled “Celebrating Everyday Spirituality,” is a good sign that spiritual maintenance is already a part of what you do. We nourish our faith also by receiving the sacraments—especially the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Another vital way we maintain our faith is by doing loving things. Every time we love we are strengthening our faith in God. Our loving can take many forms: caring for children or grandchildren, showing affection to our spouse, assisting a neighbor in need, contributing to a worthy cause, working conscientiously at our job, volunteering in our church or somewhere else, visiting someone in a nursing home, taking the dog for a walk, speaking respectfully of others,  emailing a friend who is struggling, praying for people in need.

What are some of the things you do as part of your “spiritual maintenance”?

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  1. Julie Teder on October 22, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Sr. Melannie, you are so good in bringing ways for maintaining spiritual growth down to everyday life. You know we love your books too.

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on October 22, 2012 at 12:56 pm

      Dear Julie,
      How nice to hear from you! I bet North Carolina is absolutely lovely this week! Thanks for your comment. I appreciate YOUR support of my spiritual life and my writing. Give my love to Ed! Sr. Melannie

  2. S. Pat Newhouse on October 22, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    S. Melannie, your Sunflower Seed blog has become a part of my spiritual
    maintenance ever since my retreat with you this summer. Thanks for
    you weekly spiritual thoughts. Hope all is well with you.

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on October 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm

      Dear Pat, Thank you for allowing my little blog to be a part of your “spiritual maintenance.” I hope all is well with you, too! Gratefully, Melannie

  3. Peggy Lisiak on October 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Dear Sr Melannie: Thank You for reminding us how to maintain our spiritual lives, especially by doing loving things. Your message encouraged me to keep in touch with Loved Ones, I have neglected, and I am determined to stay close to them for my own sake and theirs. I am a Friend of Fr. Richard Jones in Coraopolis, Pa. who insisted We connect with your Sunflower Seed Meditations. I met you once in Pittsburgh and have several of your books, which I love and reread.

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on October 22, 2012 at 3:31 pm

      Dear Peggy, Thank you for your response. I liked what you said about staying close to your loved ones–“for my own sake and theirs.” That’s so true! When we take time for our family and friends, we are not only the GIVERS of love, we are the RECEIVERS too. Fr. Rich is a dear friend and a fine priest. I recall with fondness my time in Pittsburgh that you refer to. Thanks again for writing! Sr. Melannie

  4. maggie moore ssj on October 22, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Dear Melannie, Thank you for your wonderful Blog each week.
    We all need a “spiritual maintenance TUNE-UP” every now and then.
    Sometimes we plan them ourselves; other times they just hit us between the eyes when we least expect them.!! Last week I had the pleasure of taking 2 of our boys to a Doctor at the same time.
    On the way back I thanked them for being RESPECTFUL while they were off campus with me.The 12 year old responded….
    ” WHY WOULDN’T WE BE RESPECTFUL WHEN WE ARE OUT WITH YOU, SIS?” I couldn’t just let it go. I had to ask WHY…
    He said, “Because you are ELDERLY and KIND.”

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on October 22, 2012 at 10:06 pm

      My dear “elderly and kind” friend, Maggie,
      Thank you for the great story! You make a fine point: that God often supplies us with an unexpected tune-up! I think your 12-year-old friend is very astute–not because he thinks you’re elderly (probably anyone over 40 is elderly to him!), but because he sees and appreciates your kindness! May you continue to be a witness of the kind Jesus for all your boys! Thanks for writing! Melannie

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