Lent Begins and Other Thoughts

How’s your Lent going?  I know it’s only been two days — but it feels like it’s going to be a looong Lent.  Oh well — only 6 weeks to go. Yay for us! 🙁

Did you get your ashes? Check out this guy — I saw a humorous chart analyzing different ash patterns on the internet and I believe this one would fall under the category:  Father’s Revenge.

Um Father, I have an important presentation later today. 🙁

Poor guy!  Anyway, my parents are in town, so let’s get right to the 7 Quick Takes:  Lenten Thoughts Edition

~1~

Yay for Surviving the 1st Strict Fast of the Year!

Though I’m posting this on Friday, I am actually writing this post early Thursday morning, the day after Ash Wednesday.  I’m happy to announce I survived the fast!

Besides the screaming headache and fantasizing about breakfast the next day, I would say it went about as well as could be expected.  How about you?

I was so hungry when I went to bad that I only managed to sleep until 3:45am.  Then I sat in bed with a baby who still nurses like a fiend and prayed a little while, waiting for an acceptable time to get out of bed and begin my day.

One thing I will say for getting up early — it’s 6am and I’ve already prayed, had breakfast, prayed some more and caught up on e-mails.  So yay for early morning rises — but I may not be as grateful for them once the effects of the espresso wears off.

~2~

Lenten Resolutions

Do you have your resolutions in place?  If not, today is a perfect time to get it done.  Get.Her.Done. kids!  Write it down, be specific, and just try your lousy best.  I wrote mine down just the other day because otherwise I tend to forget or rationalize away my resolutions.  If I write them down —  not so easy to do.

The most important thing is to choose realistic sacrifices that will help you to grow a little less selfish — a little more loving of God and neighbor.  Virtues are just habits that have had time to grow — so 6 weeks is just enough time to make these good habits stick.  Let’s get crackin’!

Forget those crazy, unrealistic goals of waking at 3am every night to say a Rosary on your knees — especially if you have kids and a husband or people who need you to be well-rested and cheerful (enough) the next day.  Remember no punishing others with your resolutions. 🙁

~3~

Sometimes It’s Just About Picking Up Your Own Cross

Some of you might be living with chronic pain or really difficult circumstances right now — and you may not need to add one more thing to your list of sacrifices.  Perhaps this Lent is about giving your current crosses meaning by offering them to God as a sacrifice of love and acceptance of His will.

Each Lent is different, and perhaps it’s time to just pick up your cross and carry it next to Christ — as He carries His.  You may not be able to pray, fast or give alms in the traditional ways, but you can take all 3 of these concepts and adapt them to your own situation.  God knows your sufferings — He sees your sufferings — and He doesn’t want you to waste one ounce of it!

Simple can be beautiful! Even if your prayer is just saying the name of “Jesus” because you have no other words — and your fasting is from unkind words — and your almsgiving is offering some of your pain for somebody you don’t like — don’t underestimate how powerful your Lent can be!

No more suffering in vain — time to unite your sufferings to His.  Time to do something beautiful with it!

Time to pick up our cross and follow Him.  I realize that cross in the picture would prob be too heavy for the average person to carry — but you get the idea.

~4~

Offering It Up

Right before Lent, I met with a great priest who generously provides spiritual direction to me — that poor man has to put up with all of my crazy. 🙁

I was sharing my concerns about a few people I care about who are really having a tough go of life,  and this priest suggested, “Maybe you should offer your Lent for them?”.

To which I replied, “But Father, that would mean I would probably have the Worst.Lent.Ever — I’m not sure I want to do that!”.

Step one in spiritual direction: Be honest.  Step Two:  Laugh at how ridiculous you can be! We both had a good laugh at my reaction because nobody likes to suffer — and if you do, you should get that checked out, because it’s not normal!

Even Jesus asked that the cup of suffering might pass Him by, so why should we be any different?  Here’s the thing — we accept suffering because we love.  Jesus accepted the cross for love of us.  Love is the only thing that makes sense of suffering — and without that, there is no hope when times get hard.

So the question I had to ask myself before Lent began was, “Do I love God and these people enough to accept what might come this Lent — for their sakes?”  The honest answer: Probably not.  I’m far too selfish. 🙁  — but I want to grow in love, so I’m going to try.

So, I took out my calendar and assigned a different person or family for each week of Lent.  And though I am slightly afraid of what that might mean, I took that priest’s prompting as an invitation from God.

I just hope I don’t live to regret it.  This dying to self stuff is not easy. 🙁

~5~

The Sacred Heart of Jesus Potato

 Have you seen the Image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus?  If not, here’s a little example:

Traditional symbol of the suffering, yet triumphant Heart, burning with love.

Well on Fat Tuesday, I was getting dinner ready, and I pulled this out of my bag of potatoes.   It’s a miracle — a Sacred Heart of Jesus potato!  Just look at it, complete with “flames” and a cut in it.

My Sacred Heart of Jesus potato.

I know, St. Patrick is surely looking down on me and shaking his head right now 🙁  But come on.  Look at it.  Was it a sign that God would be with me during Lent, a Fat Tuesday reminder that suffering would begin the next day, or just a potato?

The possibilities were endless, but before I could get too excited about my potato, my mother cut it in half because it was “too big for one person” — oh, ye of little faith! 🙁

And yes, it was just a potato — but at the same time I felt like it was like a little hand-made Valentine just for me.  Hey, technically, God made that potato and He knew I’d be pulling it out on Fat Tuesday — so technically, God sent me a Valentine that only an Irish lass would appreciate.  🙂

Thanks God, I needed that!  And it tasted really good too.

~6~

The Hour of Adoration Challenge

During Advent, I took the “Half Hour of Adoration Challenge” and it was so nice that a number of you contacted me privately or commented that you were going to join in.  So, I’m going to invite anyone and everyone to join me in the Lenten Hour of Adoration Challenge.

I’d love if you would join me in the Hour of Adoration Challenge.

Here’s the deal.  One hour of Adoration each week, in whatever time increments works for you.  I’m still not sure I can sit for an entire hour, but I am going to try.  Fortunately, there’s an adoration chapel relatively close by so if I half to break it into half hour increments that works too.

I’ll be praying for you and please pray for me!  We need to help each other keep going and growing.  I realize most people already have their Lenten resolutions in place — but if you want to join me, please comment below or let me know if you are going to try for it — and I said “try” because life happens.

If you end up with 2 weeks of attending to throwing up kids during Lent it might not work, but that just means God had something else in mind, right?  Trust me that 2 weeks offered to God can be far more sanctifying than sitting in a nice, quiet chapel one hour a week.

So no pressure, but I’d love you to join me!

~7~

Let’s Do This

I can’t help but think of that scene from Braveheart where William Wallace is telling his men they must fight for victory against the enemy.  Who doesn’t love that scene?

Sometimes I feel like we need to be reminded that this spiritual life is a battle and virtue grows when it’s tested — not when everything is easy.

The real battle is not against other men — but against principalities who want our destruction.  And in the end, our greatest battle is in our own hearts — where we must fight the battle of dying to our old selves so that we might rise anew in Christ.

If you’re not convinced, remember the words of William Wallace:

“You came here to fight as free men.  And free men you are, but what will you do with that freedom?  Will you Fight?”

Freedom is the goal of Lent.  Freedom is the promise for those who fight.

Now is the time to grow.  Now is the time to fight everything in us that wants to run the other way.  As St. Paul says, today is the acceptable day for Salvation.  Today is the only day we have, so what are we going to do with it?

So let’s lift our ash-covered faces, give our final war cry, and run over the fields of Lent and defeat the enemy — or die trying. 🙂

Lent:  Let’s Do This!

Linking up with Kelly.

 

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