Thursday, March 28, 2013
Holy Thursday - Lenten Reflections
Since I won't be blogging on Good Friday, I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on my Lenten journey...Did I enter into the desert and deepen my relationship with the Lord this year? Did I spend enough time truly meditating on his Passion and the love he showed (shows) me? As in years past, my intentions at the beginning of Lent were to truly enter into this penitential season and set it apart. To journey with Him, to draw closer, to show Him my love through acts of devotion. And, as in years past, I feel as the season draws to a close that I came up short. While I followed through in some ways, and had some days that felt like I was "getting" it, I also failed in others...
This year Ash Wednesday did not catch me by surprise. I was prepared for it, I saw it coming for weeks and made mental note, keeping it at the forefront of my thoughts so I could approach Lent mindfully. I picked the Ash Wednesday service I knew I could attend and received ashes on my forehead. My youngest son had a high school basketball game that day and I remember my delight as I watched him and his Catholic team mates play ball with the ashes they had received earlier in the day still dark and prominent on their foreheads as they played against a secular school who had none. They were marked, set apart, witnessing their faith, and it was beautiful. My gaze fell upon their cheerleaders, and again the ashes on their foreheads drew the eye. My heart felt full at this silent but profound witness: they had been wearing these ashes since mid-morning. It was now late evening. They had plenty of time to wipe them off, knowing they would be out in public at a school where the players and spectators would not be marked similarly. They would stand out. Attract stares. Perhaps even sniggers. They left them on. As I was reflecting on the beauty of seeing all these boys that I had come to know so well wearing this beautiful sign of faith, a man walked in. He took one look at me (the ashes on my own forehead were very dark and big, it looked like someone had drawn on my face with a piece of charcoal). He shook his head, looked me straight in the eye, and muttered, "Catholics." It didn't sound admiring.
I had modest plans for how I would observe lent this year, knowing that if I took on too much, I would feel overwhelmed and was bound to fail. So, I focused on four things: my worldly sacrifice (coffee and mochas, more on that later), devotions: the rosary every day, Stations of the Cross on Fridays; spending more time in prayer -- deliberately setting aside quality time for this, instead of fitting it in as I generally do --and reading/studying/praying scripture. I thought I might also pick up one of the multitude of books I have on the faith and read it - maybe that book by Mother Teresa, or the one about the early Church fathers, or the one on the Sacred Heart devotion....But no pressure.
I intended to abstain from meat on Fridays and fast. I would increase my alms giving. I would be conscious of the season every day.
How did I do? A mixed bag. Sigh. While I did fit the rosary in nearly every day, I neglected it on Saturdays and Sundays. Forgot about it completely on those days, truth be told. I did not attend one single Stations of the Cross and benediction. This deeply saddens me, as this is the one thing I usually do if I do nothing else. It is important. This time I ran into a time management issue every single Friday and failed.
Prayer? Monday thru Friday, no problem. I used the time driving home from the boys' school in the morning to pray apart and uninterrupted. This was good. It felt authentic. Most days. There were a few mornings that I hesitated before starting prayer, not in the mood to talk to anyone, even God. But I prayed about that, too.
Worldly sacrifice? Check. No mochas or coffee passed my lips except for two Sundays when I deliberately celebrated the mini Easter that is every Sunday, mindfully drinking just one cup to acknowledge my joy in the resurrection. This I chose to do after a beautiful conversation with my youngest who gave up many of his normal worldly pleasures to enter into Lenten sacrifice this year. We talked about how Sundays were exempt and how we were to celebrate every Sunday as Easter. I offered the thought that if I was choosing to drink coffee because of my desire for the coffee itself, it would be wrong, so I would do better to keep the fast on Sunday, too. But if my desire was to celebrate his rising from the dead and acknowledge that by offering that cup of coffee as my gift of thanks to him, then I surely should do this instead. I decided out loud that I would set apart only one or two Sundays for this, just to make sure I was doing Him honor and not simply indulging myself. That coffee took on new meaning in this way and I thought it was something I should do. He decided that he would rather keep the fast and acknowledge his thanksgiving in a different manner, because the sacrifice was his offering.
This Lenten season was different from any other on a personal level for both my husband and myself, as he has been attending RCIA and I am his sponsor. The last couple of weeks have been particularly meaningful, as he has completed the Scrutinies that are the final rites of preparation before the "Big Event". We are so close now, people. One of the longings of my heart for lo these many years will be fulfilled this Easter. My husband will become a new creation. Wiped clean of all sins. He will stand sinless before God. He will be truly a child of God. He will join a spiritual family like no other on earth. He will receive our Lord, body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eurachist. I will weep with joy.
The other thing I feel really good about this Lent? I attended the Parish Reconciliation prayer service and made my individual confession. Now, I will be able to receive Holy Communion at the Easter Vigil with my husband when he receives the sacrament for the first time. Very important. This will be the first time that we have all received Communion together as a family, our 3 boys and us.
Can you feel the joy?