Recently Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia experienced severe haze which caused even the schools to be closed for a day. The air pollution was so much that people were affected by respiratory illnesses, flight delays, and traffic, etc. Protective masks were distributed to help those who were going outdoors.
The effect of the haze was measured by an indicator called PSI (pollution standard index) which is a type of air quality index, used to give an easily understandable indicator of how polluted the air is. If the PSI is greater than 200, it is considered as very unhealthy and an index greater than 300 is considered as hazardous.
This got me to think about another PSI—the `Personal Spirituality Index’ which is an indication of one’s spiritual condition. Any wise person will take time to monitor his PSI level so that his soul is always in a safe zone. When the pollutants (sin) affect his soul, then sicknesses start showing up. Minor level of pollutants will show up as venial sins. When the pollution level increases, the bigger effects shows up as capital sins and mortal sins which lead the soul to dangerous levels.
Wearing a mask can only give limited protection in a strong hazy condition. In the spiritual life, we too often resort to wearing masks—first of all by telling ourselves that we are ok and are like everyone else and secondly showing others a nice picture of ourselves, hiding the real self inside, which is in an infected state. At the slightest provocation, the real self will come out as abuse, hurtful words, revenge, etc. God says in Matthew 15:8, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy.”
The permanent solution to eliminate haze in Singapore is to put out the fire from its source in the forests of Indonesia. Similarly in our spiritual life too, the real solution is to clean the inside often whenever darkness starts precipitating; which needs a real thorough cleansing, i.e. a deep rooted repentance associated with fasting and prayers, followed by a sincere confession and filling the soul with the light of Jesus through the sacraments and the Word of God. Then we will be able to see clearly and live healthy, and others also will be able to see us as we are.
This is what Prophet Jonah told the people of Nineveh, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” (Jonah 3:4). Jesus also proclaimed the same, “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). The Apostles too followed His example and announced, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2: 38-39). The Church with her prophetic role is also asking us to do the same.
In John’s Gospel, we read that “Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” (9: 40-41). Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.”
We must ask Lord Jesus to open our eyes to see the hazy conditions of our souls, and beg Him to lead us to a deep-rooted repentance, so that we turn to Him for the cleansing of our own souls and to be missionary disciples.
What is your PSI reading today?
© TOMSON SCARIA is an engineer who resides in Malaysia with his wife, Pearly, and their three children. He is a lay preacher and has been involved in numerous Catholic Charismatic and Catholic youth organizations over the years.