A few years ago in my parish, a visiting priest began a homily by asking us how many things, beyond necessities, we had accumulated. There was silence as we thought about the extra clothes and accessories in our closets, drawers, and cabinets. Over the years, it is very easy to collect articles we don’t really need or need to keep. I am very guilty! Many of the objects were attractive or good at the time I acquired them, but they can certainly pile up over time.
How about books? As I scan the reading materials in my four bookcases, I see books I have said I may read some day, books that I have read once, reference books and prayer books and booklets I have kept with my most pious intentions proclaimed.
I probably should mention all the figurines that proudly collect little dust coatings as they smile atop my flat-topped wooden furniture pieces. Those decorative accessories complement the pictures on the walls and give me “aha” moments when I shop at yard sales.
Now, I am not saying that all collections are bad or sinful or should be disbanded. After having spent more at-home time over the past 15 months, however, I do notice that collections can easily grow and that material things can gain somewhat of a grip on space and attention. Some repurposing might be wise. Is it time to think about priorities and actual needs? Could others with fewer clothes and less income somehow benefit from my downsizing?
It is easy to collect little bad habits of laziness. Habits of self-discipline can easily be ignored in the name of taking a break. Too bad that priest does not know how his “collections” question has not just gone away after all this time. Perhaps it may still render good results. The question certainly has led me to think about collections of many kinds.
What just got me thinking about collections was the reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians for today’s liturgy. While we cannot “collect” love or the riches of God’s glory, we can know and experience Christ’s love in all its magnificent divine dimensions. We read in Ephesians 3:18-19:
I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with the fullness of God.
As I collect my thoughts, I think it is good to take stock of our collections of numerous blessings and treasured memories that can easily be taken for granted. I pray Psalm 9:1-2:
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will tell of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name,
O Most High.
Photo by Inaki del Olmo (detail) on Unsplash
The Scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.