Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Favorite Time of the Year - Lent

                Today and tomorrow are my favorite days.  In fact, for the next 40 plus days, I am immersed in my favorite time of the year.  I always smile at the memories of my childhood of feeling left out during the late winter and early spring when my Catholic friends experienced their faith with acts of sacrifice.  I envied Mary B. and all her siblings as they gave up pop, gum, or chocolate as did their mother.  I found the family display of their faith beautiful and that it represented their respect for all that Jesus did for Christians during his last days on Earth. 
                Fat Tuesday is today.  This is the time many people treat themselves to the items that they will give up until Easter.  Many years, I eat chocolate on this day because I always give it up for Lent.  Being  that I have given up chocolate, flavored lattes, carbohydrates, and Diet Pepsi in September and am still staying away from them, this morning I woke up realizing I wouldn’t participate in my normal Fat Tuesday ritual.  Yet, this hasn’t quenched the excitement I feel for tomorrow.  I am almost giddy with anticipation.  Of course, I did decide I would splurge and have a plain latte.  I am drinking it now as I write.  Yes, it is good!
                Ash Wednesday is tomorrow, the beginning of Lent.  I will fast from meat the entire day.  In the evening, I will join a ton of other Catholics and celebrate Mass resulting in receiving ashes on my forehead.  Also, I will start my Lenten projects.
                Now that I am older with a better understanding of Lent, I don’t just give up things.  I also pray, fast, give to charity, and study more.  I work on my relationship with my best friend who was born in a manger.  I do all of this all year long, but I am so much more focused.  I compare it with the relationship that I am developing with my son now that he is not living at home anymore.  During the year, I phone, text, e-mail, and facebook him.  We enjoy our time together this way, but there is a distance.  This past weekend, I went to his college town.  We went out to dinner one night, shopped, church the next day, and lunch.  Being together, our relationship could be intimate.  I could see his smile, give him a hug, and hold his hand during the Our Father at church.  During this weekend, I experience a closer relationship with him.
                All year long, I pray, study, and do works of charity.  God and I are enjoying each other’s company just like I do with my son.  Once Lent begins, the time we spend together becomes more intense.  I almost feel the vale between us being lifted as least an inch or two.  Of course, I can feel this time throughout the year, but there is something more consistent and beautiful about my time with God during Lent like physically being with my son, nothing compares.
                Last night, my husband and I went to our monthly meeting at the Cathedral for those who have attended a Cursillo weekend in the past.  We watched a DVD that I don’t remember the name of but it talked about the song of God.  After it played, we discussed the topic.  Near the end, Anne mentioned our opportunity to pray more during Lent, to become more in tune to the song.  I think someone else talked about what they are doing for Lent.  Though it can seem like bragging, I believe sharing our Lenten journey can help others along their journey.  My biggest project this year will be to study and pray about the seven sorrows of Mary the mother of Jesus.  I will also do the normal fasting, attend Stations of the Cross, and crochet.  I usually make blankets for the babies of unwed mothers.  This year I am working on a blanket for Family Promise.  We will also buy baby items for our Lent to Life project at church.
                I didn’t always do this much during my Lenten journeys when I first started them.  I also wasn’t Catholic when I began to participate in Lent.  I shared my childhood woes of not being able to participate in Lent to my Catholic boyfriend (now husband).  He chuckled and said I didn’t have to be Catholic to travel down the Lenten path.  So, my first experience of Lent happened when I wasn’t Catholic.  I want to challenge all my readers to think about doing a project starting tomorrow.  There are many areas that you can work in to do this: pray an Our Father every day, read a chapter in the Bible daily, or say a prayer of thanksgiving for all the good things that took place during the day.  Tomorrow start working a little harder for your relationship with our creator, become more in tune.
                Blessing to you all.

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