One of my Lectio Divina meditations (Philippians 2:5) centered around an idea I have been romancing for some time– spiritual hoarding. Most of the people to whom I tell this idea discount it as being foolish. How can hoarding spirituality be bad? The way I approach hoarding is how I see this tendency playing out in my physical and mental universes. Hoarding can be a dysfunction if it is obsessive and compulsive. Hoarding is the inability of the individual to throw anything away. I use this concept of dysfunction as applied to a spiritual universe. Let me give you several examples of what I mean by spiritual hoarding and then apply it to you, if you are a room.

You exhibit the characteristics of a spiritual hoarder if you…

  • have not been to the Sacrament of Penance for years and years, thinking that you can just ask forgiveness of your sins and God will do your will and be merciful. You do not take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a gift Jesus gave us to receive grace to continue on our journey and make all things new. God is merciful but is not a fool.
  • have no sense of being a penitential person who is in constant need of transformation and conversion each day. Part of what it means for me to be a Lay Cistercian is to seek God every day in every way. The penitential person asks God the Father for mercy through the Son using the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • think that you can steal $1,000. from me, then ask God to forgive you and go on your way. What is wrong with this scenario? How about this: you still have not given me back my $1,000. This is called restitution and is the beginning of reparation. Forgiveness is always conditioned by repentance and reparation. Reparation means a firm purpose of amendment and, as St. Benedict quotes from Scripture, “29 Do not repay one bad turn with another” (1 Thess 5:15; 1 Pet 3:9).
  • don’t know how to make all things new. Your Faith is the same as when you were in Grade School. St. Benedict, in his Rule, Chapter 4 states: “You must honor everyone (1 Pet 2:17), 9 and never do to another what you do not want to be done to yourself (Tob 4:16; Matt 7:12; Luke 6:31). 10 Renounce yourself in order to follow Christ (Matt 16:24; Luke 9:23); 11 discipline your body (1 Cor 9:27);” A penitential person uses these tools for good works (Chapter 4) as reparation for doing bad and shameful things.
  • don’t know how to clean out your spiritual room of all that is useless and throw away all those things that keep you from “having in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)
  • are the same Catholic as you were when you began your journey in Baptism. Christ asked us to do something with the gift of adoption as son and daughter of the Father. Just as Christ, Son of God, Savior, shared Himself with us with His death and resurrection and ascension to the Father, so we, those who have been called by Christ to be disciples, must share what we have received from Christ. And what was that? There is one command, one request that Christ makes of us: to love others as He has loved us, not as the world defines love, but one that makes Christ real to those with whom we encounter (friends as well as enemies).


When I apply this concept of holding onto those things that are not necessarily sinful but keep me from growing from self to God, I use the analogy of a room.

In my case, I am more keenly aware that my transformation depends on putting more Christ in my room and discarding the old. Put another way, if I want to have Christ over for a cup of coffee and a chat, is my room clean enough for me to entertain God? This is a way that I can understand that I must keep my room ready to wait for the coming of Christ into my heart. But, isn’t Christ everywhere? Yes, Christ is everywhere, but I am not present in contemplation and prayer unless I am a penitent man who keeps saying over and over, “have mercy on me, Son of David, for I am a sinner.”

When I am in the presence of Christ, something wonderful always happens. I don’t realize it right away but it happens, even if I don’t think about it. It is akin to walking outside and feeling the sun on your face. It is warm and wraps you in a mantel of comfort. In my room, I want to experience being present to Christ through Lectio Divina, Eucharist, Liturgy of the Hours, Scripture, and reading about the lives of others who have placed Christ as the center of their lives.

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