Thursday, February 11, 2016

Let's Not Make Lent About Convenience

I think there should be a special name for today. You know, the day stuck in between Ash Wednesday and the first Friday of Lent. A woman in my due date group (yes, there are social media groups for women with due dates around the same time, and it's awesome!) remarked about how she's eating chocolate and meat all day. It's funny, because I've been planning something similar. I don't have loads of chocolate in the house, but I will be eating a treat or two later, and meat is on the menu for dinner tonight. So, I think today needs a special name; a title that commemorates how we're still in Lent (so it's not as festive as Fat Tuesday), but it's a day with a little less penance, sandwiched in between more-penitential days. Plus, it's the feast/memorial/commemoration of Our Lady of Lourdes, so that adds a tad bit of festivity, too! 
Plump Thursday? 
Pampered Thursday?  
Satisfying Thursday?

I don't know...If you have any grand ideas, I'd love to hear 'em! 
Anyways, it's Lent, and I'm really excited! Yesterday was blessed, hard, and prayerful-a great way to kick off Lent.
In the perfection of God's timing, pregnancy nausea and fatigue decided to make an appearance, so it was a nice way to spend the day in a lot of silence, prayer, and relaxation while I worked on a few scattered projects here and there. Even though I couldn't fast (since I'm feeding our little man), I still looked forward to the end of the day, though-Ash Wednesday is tough to get through! In fact, last night, I compared Ash Wednesday evening to Christmas Eve. I told my husband: 
"You know how on Christmas Eve, your parents will tell you to go to bed because when you wake up, Santa has arrived? Well, on Ash Wednesday, I just want to go to bed so that I can wake up and have it be Thursday." 
As challenging as it is, I love Ash Wednesday. I think it helps me get in a good mindset for Lent, where I focus on intimate prayer with God and repentance. Ash Wednesday's difficulties are a good reminder that the Christian life is tough, but that we still need to persevere. 

At Mass yesterday, Fr. Novak gave a stellar homily (as he always does) about how we need to make our parish (and lives) a convenient-free zone. He talked about a program in Oklahoma City called "Ash and Dash," which is based on a drive-thru model. Earlier in the day, I had read Patty's great post which referenced "drive-thru ashes," so hearing about a similar program in my city came as little surprise to me. Fr. Novak straightforwardly explained that the idea of bringing Christ to the streets and meeting people where they are at is good. It's awesome, in fact. We are supposed to bring Christ to the streets and meet people as they are! However, Fr. Novak also pointed out that the "drive-thru" model for Ash Wednesday is fundamentally flawed because it makes the Faith a matter of convenience. Instead of carving out a chunk of time in our day to spend with the Lord at a local church, it turns into a quick event that we can do on our own convenience and timetable. 

Is the Christian life a convenient one? Does Christ call His disciples to a life of ease? Let's take a look at the Gospel reading from Mass this morning: 
Then he said to all,“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himselfand take up his cross daily and follow me.For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.What profit is there for one to gain the whole worldyet lose or forfeit himself?” (Lk 9:23-25)
We are not called to a path of convenience and ease. The Christian life is one of sacrifice and repentance. We travel on the narrow way, the path of mortification, stepping gingerly-trustingly-in times of hardship. As Fr. Novak said so clearly last night, we need to stop making the Faith a matter of convenience. We need to get serious about our faith lives, step outside of our comfort zones, and be willing to sacrifice for God in whatever way He calls us to. (And, believe it or not, other people are attracted to that kind of conviction and intensity!) 

Have a blessed continuation of your Lenten journey, and enjoy your ________ Thursday! 

***If you are interested in a quirky-but fabulous-Lenten prayer resource, I recently discovered something awesome. Lenten Beards sends out very short reflections about bearded saints. I do not have a beard (nor do I want a beard!), but I can appreciate a well-groomed beard, and there are many awesome bearded saints. The reflections are super short, and are good ways to integrate the saints into your day. So, if that interests you, check it out! 


  1. I love that mindset of your pastor "convenient free zone"! Reminds me of a book I'm reading my pastor recommended "Divine Renovation" all about from moving from maintenance to mission in parish life...

    Bearded saint reflections for Lent!? Different but sounds kinda neat :)

    1. Isn't he great? I'm a huge fan of our pastor (and associate pastor)-they both are unafraid to discuss what's going on in our world and hold us to a higher standard of holiness. Thanks for mentioning that book-I will make a note of it on my "eventually look into these/read them" list. The whole maintenance-to-mission sounds really important and intriguing, and I'd love to learn more about it (sidenote: I love when you blog about ministry-related stuff! You have an awesome perspective to offer!).