When I was a UPS driver up in West Boylston, being the last route I had before my day of earthly salvation arrived and I left the brown uniform for a black one, I got to know the town pretty well over the course of 5 years. I know all the shortcuts, the back alleys, where the quiet spots were so I could enjoy an hour’s lunch each day in peace and quiet. I got to know many of the good people who either reside or work in the town. And, last but not least, I got to know which houses were haunted. Where spirits were supposedly still present in old homes. I know of at least two addresses in the town where people will say with a high level of certainty, “That house is haunted.”
It’s one of those deals where there’s no obligation to believe anything about such proclamations. Are there houses or other residences that are haunted in cities and towns throughout this great land that celebrates its 240th birthday on Monday? I would say definitely yes. I’ve heard from most reliable sources to think otherwise.
I use this image of a spirit being left behind in a residence or some other structure because it’s probably the most unnatural situation for any spirit to experience. When we die, our spirits and souls, we believe for good reason, appear in the presence of God to receive its judgment for eternity. And, off they go. Through the Pearly Gates, where there’s no sneaking past St. Peter; or, to the shadow of Purgatory; or, to the place we call Hades, along with a few other names.
But spirits left behind in the very places where they had a strong connection, usually where they died, seem to be in some middle area of existence. A place of spiritual wandering, instead of spiritual rest, where they are not supposed to be according to our religious beliefs. So I relegate such occurrences to our lack of understanding of all of God’s ways. What we can say with a level of certainty is that being left behind is both unusual and unnatural. Not only in spirit, but also in body.
Jesus sends out 72 disciples. That’s a large heavenly force being sent forth. They all leave their places of residence, their towns, their families, their crops and their boats. They leave quite a bit behind. Except for their families, everything else they leave behind is part of a passing world. Only human beings are created for eternity. Once Jesus sends them out, they can find everything else they need out there by way of people’s generosity. Thus, no money bags, no sacks, no sandals. ‘You’ll be given what you need out there!” Once they leave and go out to bring the Good News that the Kingdom of God is at hand for you, their entire focus is on Christ.
I use this image for us who are devoted enough and grace-filled enough to come to the Eucharist each week and listen to God’s word penetrate our lives. And we know how many of us Catholics like to sit in the same seat, section, or area each week. God help the person, or the stranger visiting from out of town, who arrives early to pray and takes your seat. Call the ambulance!
I can’t make light of this too much because I sit in the same seat every Mass. Just like many of you. However, what we do not want to do when we leave here is to leave behind our spirits. Although each of our spirits is wonderfully connected to the area where we sit each week, when we leave here we are to take our spirits with us in order to proclaim out there that the Kingdom of God is at hand for you. Unlike the spirits in haunted houses and wherever else, this we have much control over right now.
If we are not taking our spirit with us when we leave Church, be it the result of the forces of political correctness beating us down, or we’re too shy in personality, or we believe religion belongs here and nowhere else, then we’re not fully equipped for the Lord who sends us forth to bring his message of peace and salvation to a broken and violent world. We cannot be successful to any degree unless we take the spirit of our Catholicism with us, especially the Holy Spirit.
There may be houses that are haunted; this rectory over here may be one of them from my experience. There are very likely spirits left behind after a person dies, creating a situation that is unnatural, unusual, and most uncomfortable for all involved. Situations we fail to fully grasp because God’s ways are so far beyond our limited capacity to understand at times.
But as long as we are in the world, we are to be the light of the world by taking the light of Christ with us when we leave here, better known as our spirits. A body without a spirit may as well be a dead body, just like faith without works is a dead faith. Take all of our makeup into the world where we are sent by virtue of our Baptism. Into our homes; into our families; our places of labor; our spots of relaxation. If we take our bodies only, then we address our world in a bodily way only. That’s what atheists, God-haters, and politically correct people do. Where the world is seen in physical terms only; where the spirit is rejected. That’s most unnatural to the way of Christ, and how he sends us forward.
Take your spirit with you. Our spirits are necessary to share the Good News of our Lord. Some houses may or may not be haunted. Let your house, with your spirit, haunt this world on behalf of our Redeemer.