40 Ways in 40 Days
In just a few clicks around the blogosphere I begin to feel it brewing inside, Lent is coming, Lent is coming - there is so much to do! There are recipes, lists, ideas, and more. I must get prepared, I must, I must!
And then I have to laugh ~ at myself. Is this the purpose of Lent: Me? Doing? More? Honestly, I am not exactly sure of the answer. Even after having converted to Roman Catholicism 13 years ago, I still have so much to learn about the traditions cradle Catholics were raised upon that remain new and somewhat mysterious to me. As a young Presbyterian, I always felt a little left out when all my Catholic friends were giving up chocolate and pop for Lent. No mention of this was ever made in my church or home. I just didn't get it. And I secretly wanted to do something like that too.
After converting, I still didn't really get it. It was never discussed during RCIA and what I could glean from other Catholics was simply this - give up something you love until Easter when you can go back to the old habit once again. Or, even more commonly, most people have simply stopped doing anything special at all during Lent. It has become just another thing on most people's already overloaded to-do lists. Better to just leave it off.
But I could see that there must be deeper reasons for these long-held traditions. I felt there must be an opportunity for special grace for the Church to continue to recommend that we all practice self-sacrifice in some way. So, for this Lent, I have made it my mission to delve into the traditions of these 40 days of preparation. To research the why and how of our beautiful rituals and practices. In these posts I will do my best to share with you what I have learned.
And just to get you thinking about Lent in a less stressful way I want to share this from Father Richard Veras:
"There is a temptation to see Lent as a time of self-improvement, during which my focus is on myself. ... Let our focus be not on ourselves, but on Jesus." (from The Magnificat Lenten Companion)
What if I could see Lent as a time of rest rather than a time to do more? What if we are really being called to simply be closer to Christ, to spend more time in quiet contemplation of his love for us rather than striving to find a way to prove my love for him? These thoughts come to me softly, beckoning me to follow where this path may lead. They are welcome words for this busy mom who is always looking for those quiet moments to share with her Prince of Peace.
This is not to say that I am not interested in doing anything special for Lent. Hot cross buns, yes, sacrifice beads, maybe. Instead, it is to say that I feel released from the need to do any of it. I must find a way each day to give up something I love to make room for more time to invite God into my day and my life.
Then I find this Closing Prayer by Father Veras in The Magnificat Lenten Companion which says it all so well.
God our Father, in this lenten season may we not betray your love by trying to deserve it. Help us to fast from all that distracts us from your love.
Help us to recognize you as the origin and goal of all of the desires you place in our hearts. Help us be true to ourselves and true to you by continuing to beg for your love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Stop back tomorrow to read about Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras and Pancakes!
Join Elizabeth Foss in pondering fasting.