By The Right Reverend Father Michael D. Jordan

"Know ye not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells within you?" This is from St. Paulís first letter to the Corinthians. What kind of temple are you building in your heart? We spend a lot of our lives working on our physical dwelling places, or our temporary homes on the earth. We are constantly repairing leaks and squeaks. We add furnishings, we repaint walls and decorate our living spaces with frills and comfort, yet when our soul is required of us, all that is left is the "Temple of our Soul". Mankind is never quite satisfied with their dwelling places; there is always something that needs updating, or adjusting. Renovation is the hallmark of the modern American home today! How much time do we spend working on the "Temple of our Souls" compared to our physical dwelling place?

Itís easy to neglect something that is abstract in favor of a tangible environment in which we live. Our homes have walls, floors, and a ceiling. Work that must be done is virtually "In your face", itís quite hard to ignore, or push into the background. Your soul; however, is an intrinsic part of you, one that you cannot see. Because we cannot see a physical structure that does not mean that it is every bit as real as your physical home. You can work on your "Temple" just as easily as you work on your physical home. The rewards for your efforts are often not immediately visible; however, they are eternal improvements, compared with temporary improvements. What I will be telling you about improvements to the temple of your soul are only abstract concepts, so that you can visualize what I am trying to relay to you. I will be using conventional references so you can understand.

Think of the "Temple of your Soul" as a continual work in progress. We can decorate our temple in many more ways than we can decorate our homes. Why do we prefer to add furniture, or paint walls in our physical homes, rather than working on our souls? One reason is a complete fallacy: we think that others will not notice the improvements in our souls, but they can see the change in our homes. When you make improvements to your temple, they are clear and obvious to others. You might think, well we receive guests in our physical homes, but not in the temple of our souls. Thatís completely wrong, for on Sunday when you receive the Holy Communion, you receive the King of All into your temple.

If you were to entertain an earthly King, would you not make every effort to clean your home, and make sure that it was comfortable and welcoming to the King. How does the King of All find your temple when He visits? Often we adorn the walls of our homes with fine art. What kind of art might Jesus Christ encounter on the walls of your temple? You certainly wouldnít frame a mud splatter and grace the walls of your home with it; however, thatís sometimes what the King of All encounters when He visits. In the Scripture Lesson of the rich man in hell and Lazarus in the Bosom of Abraham, we find the mud-splattered artwork hanging on the rich manís wall. The rich man saw Lazarus lying at his gate every day, he saw the dogs lick poor Lazarusí wounds, but refused to help Lazarus in even the smallest way.

The rich man may have lived in a palace, but his soul was a disheveled shack, decorated with cob webs and neglect. Lazarus was poor; his portion in life was humble and unpretentious, his temple was most likely very modest, but in order, clean and presentable for the King to visit. The rewards in the Scripture were obvious for both men. The rich man suffered a great loss, for he became literally a prisoner in the ramshackle dungeon he had built through neglect and transgression, while Lazarus lived in comfort in his temple, built through the toil of pain and suffering.

This is an extreme example. God does not expect for us to be beggars and lay at rich peopleís gates and allow dogs to lick our sores. What God does expect is that we make the best of what we are given. God wants us to keep our temple in good repair and make modest improvements throughout our lives. Just as we can make improvements, we can dilapidate our temple through our action, or inaction. Every time we make an enemy, we brick up a window or door of our temple, preventing Godís light from entering at that source. We allow mildew to grow on the walls, and the paint to peel, when we neglect prayer. We mar the floors and break windows every time we practice deceit, or spiteful behavior. We disgrace the walls with distasteful art every time we are in a position to help another person and refuse to do so. Grave sins like adultery, murder, and theft collapse walls, and cause floors to cave in, and ceilings to fall. We can create a hovel instead of a temple through evil actions.

How can we make improvements in our Spiritual temple? Let me suggest a few renovations that you can make in your temples: Build the walls of the temple strong with a firm faith in God. Paint the walls often with prayer, the more coats of paint the better. Adorn the walls with artwork fit for a King. You add a fine piece of art every time you help the poor, or cheer up a person that is sick or suffering. Every time you stand up for your faith, or help others to find the truth in Jesus Christ, you add furnishings to your temple. If you are married, and keep your marriage pure and undefiled, you set up for yourself a fine crown to wear in your temple. Every time you befriend a stranger, or expand the circle of people you love and care for, you add more room to your temple. Every time you resist temptation you strengthen your temple, making it more and more secure and solid. Every unselfish act, every warm loving thought, adds another candle to illuminate your temple. Fasting, and careful study of the Scriptures kindles a warm, welcoming fire in the fireplace.

The Sacrament of Baptism and Chrismation establishes the temple on firm foundations in Jesus Christ. Then, it is up to us to build on to it, to renovate it, and to keep it in good repair. The Sacrament of Penance, or Confession, helps us to keep our temple swept clean and ready for the King of All to visit. The King of All comes to visit and dwell in our temple through the Holy Communion. Never will your temple glow more brightly than when the King of All comes to dwell there. If He takes up abode in your temple, then you have an invincible fortress to protect you from all evil. A life active in the Holy Church is the best building project you can have for the temple of your soul. Keep in mind the temple of your soul is a "Gift of God, free and clear", itís up to your own free will to keep it in good repair and decorate it as lavishly as you like. Any repairs or improvements you make are truly blessings for you in the real life that awaits us all, that eternal life with Our Loving Creator.