Another lesson from nature comes from the effort to remove invasive species from our woods. There is one tree, oddly enough named, Tree of Heaven, that is an invasive species, and must be controlled if not eradicated.
Invasive species in a hardwood forest are synonymous with sin in the spiritual life. Obviously, the goal of the Christian life is to grow in virtue and root out all vice and sinful behaviors. As we all know, both require effort. The process of removing an “invasive species” requires going into the overgrown areas of the woods, where generally one gets quite cut up with briars and often trips and falls over irregularities in the forest floor, hidden by the undergrowth. In short, it is difficult at best.
Secondly, one cannot just cut these invasive trees and expect they are gone. Once they are cut, the stump must also be treated to get to the “root” of the problem, so that it will not regrow in the next season. Sin, similarly must be dealt with in like fashion. It is certainly good to “cut it out” by not comitting the sin, but it is also very helpful, and sometimes necessary to know what lies at the root of the temptation or behavior, in order to better understand, so as to eliminate the sinful inclination and behavior.
Finally, another similarity is that if left untended, the invasive species will block out light to the more desirable crop trees, preventing their growth. In a short period of time, one ends up with a section of nothing but “invasive species” and very few desirable hardwoods. Sin, when left untended in our lives, also continues to grow and affect other behaviors. It also blocks out the “Light” of Christ, preventing our growth in holiness, and sometimes even diminishing the holiness of life, placing us in great jeopardy.
The great “treatment” for removing sin in our life is practicing the Sacraments. We need the Sacrament of Reconciliation to be healed from the consequence of sin and to receive the grace necessary to grow in virtue and holiness. Call upon the grace of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, whatever your state in life, and receive the Sacrament of Eucharist certainly every Sunday, and perhaps, even more frequently.
The removal of such “invasive species” is a long-term project, and so is growing in holiness! Return to the Lord! and allow Him to continue to do great things both for you and in you.