Monday, March 18, 2019

It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Lent Now

Lent is one of my favorite liturgical seasons, yet as I sat in that front pew on Ash Wednesday, I wanted it to be over. A pit of dread weighed down my stomach. I had recently begun praying these six words, and lo and behold, God was making his will abundantly clear to me. First, at presenting an idea in my mind earlier that day, a nudge that I needed to do that one thing. Then, in the words of our deacon, who joyfully preached from the sanctuary, urging us to do something that was almost exactly that one thing that God had been urging me to do. 

I fidgeted, irritated-even a little mad-at God. Wondering if somehow, I could run from the season of Lent, from the challenge that God had presented me with. And, I realized, I could. I could simply ignore what God had been telling me. No one else would know, and I could happily continue on with my life. But, as I mulled this over in my mind, I knew that I didn't want to wallow in the hypocrisy of the Pharisees-I do that far more often than I should already. 

And so I did that one thing. Within the next several days, I began receiving confirmations from God-through the Bible readings I do with my husband, through a homily or two at Mass, through my Lenten spiritual reading-that it was good I had done this. And peace creeped into my heart. 

As this was going on, I took my toddler and baby to pray at the abortion clinic for the first time. Another woman was there with her toddler, and we stood behind our strollers together, two mothers praying for the many mothers who were walking into the building in front of us. The prayers of the Rosary slipped through our lips as my son played "keep away" with his Rosary, offering it to the other toddler and then pulling it away from her just as her fingers tried to grasp it. Their laughter and squeals intermingled with our Hail Marys before they floated up the sidewalk, to the clinic doors. 

Even though so many lives being destroyed within yards of where I stood, hope grew in my heart. We are kicking the devil in the face! I thought to myself. We may never see the fruits of our prayers; we may never see any good come from the sacrifices my toddler  made as he eventually grew cranky and tired and sick of sitting in his stroller. But we were not there to see the fruits of our prayers, or to see good things happen. We were there to pray and be a quiet witness of love and compassion. 

With all of this occurring in just the first few days of Lent, I began to think, We've already done some pretty powerful things and Lent has only begun. What kind of events or struggles are going to come? I guess that's up for God to know and us to find out.

Last night, my husband asked me "Why are __________[insert a bunch of bad things] happening?"

"It's Lent," I replied, realizing what I was saying as I was saying it. Because yes, after these tremendous spiritual victories in the first few days of the season, we were hit with news of so many challenging situations that our friends are going through in their marriages, in their spiritual lives, in their physical health. 

There are many days of Lent left, and I have a feeling that all this isn't going to stop. But God is good-so, so good-and I need to keep my gaze focused on him now more than ever. 
"Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ [Jesus] will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little."~1 Peter 5:8-10
And so I look to Christ, who has already conquered sin, death, and Satan. I give him my heavy heart and the prayer, "Jesus, I trust in You." 

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