Spiritual Potholes

An unusually hard winter hit the midwestern, southern, and eastern United States in 2015.  Cities set records for below zero temperatures. Coupled with mountains of snow that blanketed the ground for weeks, we suffered from fatigue, frustration, and the frigid ice and snow. Parents and children prayed for warm weather and a return to a normal school schedule. Motorists dreaded challenges on the highways and streets.

As the ice and snow thawed and froze again, we faced another challenge, as the slick roads turned into pockmarked streets.  I experienced this daily as I drove from my home to the parish where I minister. Driving on one particular road near church is like avoiding land mines in a field of potholes, strewn down the street. It’s almost impossible to miss them. If I swerve one way, two more await me, as I bounce back and forth on my bumpy ride.

Hitting a particularly deep hole, I thought, these pot holes remind me of spiritual potholes facing us on all sides – seductive clothes, immoral Internet scenes, peer pressure to take heroin or pot, or the seductive appeal to steal money or merchandise. It’s hard to avoid such moral temptations; they are all around us.

Facing physical potholes in streets and spiritual pot holes in daily living are part of life. We must do our best to avoid them. If our car keeps hitting physical potholes, sooner or later they will throw our car out of kilter. In a similar way, if we do not reject spiritual potholes (temptations), they will weaken us and often lead to sin.

The Our Father ends, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” When we say this prayer, let us resolve to avoid the dangers inherent in dallying with moral temptations and to develop an attitude that rejects them immediately when they come. To assist us, we ask for the help of our Mother Mary and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

Next time we hit a pothole, remember the importance of saying “no” to the spiritual potholes that come our way.

Order Fr. Hater’s latest book, Common Sense Catechesis: Lessons from the Past, Road Map for the Future.