By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton

Monday, May 2, 2016


The thermos of water; it seems to be everywhere. In the office, at school, while out for a walk - many people are carrying with them some form of container filled with water. The need for regular hydration - and lots of it - seems to be catching on as necessary for the enjoyment of good health. Simply put, we cannot live without water.

In Alberta, this point is underscored dramatically right now by the lack of moisture in the earth. The winter has been unusually mild and dry, and this leaves us worried about the crops our farmers can expect their fields to yield this year. Rain would be very welcome right now.

So, when it comes to the body and the earth, we get it. Regular and sufficient hydration is a must. Yet, what about spiritual hydration? Are we allowing our souls to wilt? It seems to me we need to take a look at this, and urgently. The legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia is but one indicator of the spread of a spiritual desert in our nation.

When Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well, he promised her "living water", indeed, a spring "gushing up" to eternal life. (Cf. John, chapter 4). This promise of spiritual hydration was fulfilled in the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which will be commemorated and celebrated this year on May 15. In the immediate lead up to Pentecost, perhaps we could examine our lives and consider to what degree our souls have become desiccated and are in need of re-hydration by the Holy Spirit.

St. Paul can help us in this regard. Take a look at Galatians 5: 16-26, where the Apostle contrasts the "works of the flesh" with the "fruits of the Spirit." Struggles with any of the former are clear signs of a wilting soul. A soul well watered by the Holy Spirit becomes a fertile field yielding the fruits of peace, truth, love, justice, charity, mercy and so on.

The irrigation system bringing us this water that is the Holy Spirit is comprised of the gifts Christ himself left to the Church, namely, his Word and the sacraments. Do we ponder daily the Word of God with hearts ready to be challenged and transformed? Are we participating with regularity in the sacramental celebrations of the Church, especially Eucharist and Penance? If the answer to either of these is negative, it is no wonder that we find our souls parched; we are closing ourselves off from the wellsprings. Let's return quickly to these sources of spiritual hydration and know the fullness of life Christ wills for each of us.