Tuesday, February 07, 2006

System Restore

I’ve recently endured a harrowing, frustrating, irritating, time-consuming, and generally maddening series of minor and major computer problems, ranging from losing a few downloaded programs to witnessing the dreaded blue-screen announcement: “Fatal System Error.”

After praying that the ordeal would end quickly and favorably, I also prayed that I might learn whatever lesson the Lord wished me to learn through all this (also praying that I could learn lessons some other way!). I’m not sure I got whatever He was trying to tell me, but I did make applications of some of the technical terms to the spiritual life.

Two things that computers need, if they’re going to access the Internet, are a “firewall” and an anti-virus program. There are “hackers” constantly trying to break into your computer through its various open “ports,” so that they can steal confidential information from you (like credit card numbers when you shop online). And viruses are mostly created by demented computer geeks who have nothing better to do than create programs that will enter and jam up or destroy your computer. The devil is like a hacker, intent on stealing our virtue, with a bag full of spiritual viruses meant to ruin our spiritual lives and even destroy our souls. He looks for any open port in our spiritual defenses, any vulnerability he has observed, so that he can enter and do his dirty work. So we need the holy-fire-wall of the Spirit of God, and the sacraments which “disinfect” us from the demonic viruses and from the results of our own errors and sins.

There’s an ingenious device on today’s computers called “System Restore.” It’s sort of a time machine, which only travels backwards. When you do something really stupid, or some program has malfunctioned and your computer is in its death throes, you can, if you’re able to sneak back in through “safe mode,” go back in time. You set the system restore to, say, yesterday’s date, before the disaster happened, and it will reset your computer to whatever its configurations were at that time. Then, if all goes well, all the disasters of today will disappear, for the computer has been restored to its former good functionality. It’s like the crash never happened.

Oh, would that we could perform a “system restore” on our souls! Set it back to the time before your last (or first) grievous sin! Make your soul as if all that stuff never happened! Well, we do have something like that. It’s called absolution. We also have Holy Communion, which itself is a great system restore. Actually, the perfect one would be an adult baptism—that clears every error your computer (soul) has ever made, and restores the image of God perfectly! On psychological and emotional levels, however, it still won’t be as if nothing ever happened, for we will still carry some scars and memories. But the point is, our souls don’t have to “crash,” we don’t have to be stuck with a “fatal system error” that makes it impossible for us to function as children and servants of God.

I was so stressed after all those problems and hours spent on the phone with tech support (hey, your confessor or spiritual father can be your soul’s tech support!), that I actually prayed as I received Communion that this would be a system restore for me. Wash away all the aggravation in that Precious Blood! Let me start fresh and at peace.

You don’t have to (and I don’t recommend it) express your spiritual life in terms of computer technology. But we ought to be able to see the hand of God and learn some spiritual lessons in whatever we do. It’s important that we “maximize the performance” of our souls through continual spiritual growth (upgrades?). For there is a time on God’s “scheduler,” the last event on it, called Judgment Day, when there will be only two functions left for the Master Programmer and Operator to perform: “save” or “delete.” So don’t delay your system restore!