Sunday, February 21, 2016

So, how's your Lent?

I always lack a decent reply when someone comes to me with that question. As I've said, I love Lent...but that's not something I can drop into casual conversation with an acquaintance (I get enough blank stares with my posse ;0)). Often, the question comes from someone whom I know but only remotely and it turns into a "I decided to go to the gym every day and give up drinking because I really need to lose weight" kind of conversation. I never know where to go with that either. Perhaps next Lent I need to beef up on "how to recognize people for whom you could be a springboard into a more meaningful Lent". (I just reread my posts from the last 2 Lents and it's come up both times. I'm writing down "Evangelization" on my calendar for the upcoming Ordinary Time...maybe I can be ready in a year.)

If you want to know, I haven't really given up anything for Lent.

  - I have inadvertently given up tonic water (Read this if you haven't been following along) meaning I ran out about 2 days in and figured, since I do enjoy it, it would be a good thing to pass on for Lent.

  - When a friend asked, I said "I gave up the world for Lent." This was true pretty much until Scalia's death and I was pulled back into the information stream. One day of that made me realize I need to be out of the world and, since it's pretty necessary for my sanity, it doesn't really qualify as a Lenten fast.

  - I have successfully completed #1 of 3 24-hour fasts as part of 40 days for life. You now have the option of liquid only or bread and water. I think I would enjoy the bread and water more but I am so afraid for my family if my coffee is gone for a full day.

As I just noticed by rereading past Lent blogs, I tend more to the "do" side. We have delivered two or three meals over the last ten days, I've made it to the vigil alone twice and with family twice, I have said a rosary every day and we've made it to Mass as a family one extra day per week. A lot of those things were already part of our lives in one way or another so, again, that isn't building much "Lenten muscle" as it were.

Yesterday, I realized that my Lent (and as such, the Lent of my kids) is more like...
and I think it's working better than I could have imagined. Is it what Lent is about? I think so. I think it's bringing my awareness of the Holy Spirit's workings front-and-center and that, for me, is a perfect way to grow closer to God. This works so well with the fasting and giving to know that God is present in all things...

We are nomads on Friday so it's always up to me to find a church for Stations and they have to fit in a narrow time frame. I found another parish, closer to St. Vincent to attend this week that had not only Stations but also Exposition and Benediction. Yay! How did I find it? No idea (ahem)

Once at school, waiting for the others, we again headed to the chapel early, little man and I, so we could light a candle to Our Lady. When we were finished and sitting quietly, I realized the door to the confessional was open and waiting. Having no other place to put him, the three-year-old went in with me. It was a traditional screen setup (although you could push them apart if you wanted face-to-face, which is cool, but I left them closed in hopes of keeping little man quiet). Somewhere in the middle of my talking with the priest, G put his face up to the screen and whispered, "Is that Jesus talking in there?" I said "yes" and it was one of the most moving moments I had all day. What a beautiful blessing for me to take that step to carry my added burden when going to seek forgiveness and be rewarded so greatly.

On Saturday we had one scheduled appointment which we promptly missed by sitting upstairs in pajamas, watching videos of when the kids were tiny. Again, such a blessing to step out of the "routine" and be led to an hour of talking, remembering and sharing the love that is our family.

The weather could not have been more beautiful (I think the high got to 70!) so we decided to get dressed and walk to church to put out the worship aids. Our walk turned into interval runs for me and the older 4 kids and it was a blast. So much so that they asked to run more on the way home. We sent DH and G home to pick up the van and we headed down to the high school track (I know my kids well enough...a mile or two plus uphill home wouldn't have worked).

On the way to the track we saw two old friends (and realized one lives very close to us!) and met a lovely old man who was chatting with one of our friends. What a joyful way to spend an afternoon. Kind interactions with others, known or unknown, is one of the greatest powers of our free will. We can choose to listen to the promptings, we can choose to take the time out to be present, we can choose to connect with someone just for the sake of's our will. It's God's will that we will draw closer to one another and acknowledge that we all have inherent value through Him.

Today was even more unexpected gifts. Standing at the 40 Days vigil for the babies who must remain silent and being rewarded by a local business man who, while not united in religion with us, appreciates the gesture enough to touch the heart of a small boy...attending Mass with "neighbors" from our parish who are united in our faith tradition and help to bring love and well-being to our area...enjoying catching up with old friends and meeting new during the social after; one wonderful woman delivered rice krispie treats to our front door after finding out we (OK, me) love them. Wow. So many people responding to the whispers to make the world nicer today. What if we all tried to listen and follow every day? What a wonderful world, huh?

Be great! Move out of your comfort zone and do something for someone else this week. You have no idea how your generosity will ripple out and how far it will carry.

We are blessed.

update...this morning I opened one of my many Lenten Reflection emails and it kind of agrees completely with me...ahem.  40Acts.Org

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