Friday, February 15, 2013

Lenten Anxiety

                Ash Wednesday begins my favorite faith time of year.  I love going to Mass in the evening to receive my ashes on the forehead.  The journey of Lent is the polar opposite of Advent (days leading to Christmas).  People of most faiths and no faiths celebrate Christmas and spend the majority of Christmas preparing for the event.  There are parties and programs galore and tons of shopping, wrapping, and decorating to bog down our already busy schedules.  The season is hard to just sit and reflect on God.

                Lent is quiet.  No parties or programs about a mythological holiday entity to distract from the days.  The only real job is to be with Jesus.  The only list to cross off is for groceries for the Easter dinner, a little candy, and Easter Eggs.  I don’t have to think of fudge, cookies, gift wrap, cards, or much decorating.  Instead, I spend quiet time.  I love it.  This year though I have been dreading Lent.

                As I sat waiting for Father to begin the homily Wednesday evening, I smiled at how homey the church felt.  Sitting in our area, we were overflowing with 6:00, 8:00 and 10:30 parishioners.  It felt like a big family reunion of the different weekly worship services.  I loved being with the Ackeret’s from 6:00, the Riley’s and Hogan’s from 8:00, and Pat from 10:30.  This is just in our little area.  The rest of the church was stuffed with all of us.  With Father’s first words, I became stressed.

                He asked how our lists for Lent were coming.  He started rattling off all the things we should be doing for the season.  I felt my good feelings begin to deflate.  I wasn’t ready for Lent.  I want to make the commitment to go to Station’s of the Cross, but it is the same time as volleyball games, Clay’s music gig, and a number of other things.  Failure.  Almsgiving I have usually crocheted a blanket for a baby in need, but I haven’t even started one or planned to because of my busy schedule.  Failure.  I am already studying Saint Jerome and reading the Bible daily.  I am praying.  How can I do more?  Failure.

                Then Father basically said to get rid of the lists.  Lent is a time to grow closer to God not make lists and complicate our lives even more which in turn takes us further from Him.  I sighed in relief.  I don’t have to add five more things to a very busy schedule to have a successful Lent.  In fact, I don’t have to make it to Stations of the Cross.  I am going to try to get to a couple of them, but probably not all of them.  I am going to pray more by taking pictures of things I am thankful for.  I am going to play the Hail Mary on the piano and be in prayer through song.  As I go out shopping, I will pick up baby items for charity.  No lists, just simple little actions of thanksgiving.    I am now ready and excited for Lent.

                Blessings to you all.

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