Even though we still have the Christmas lights in the garage (hey, at least they’re off the house), Lent is officially here. I have the black ashy forehead to prove it. As I sit here drinking my Dr. Pepper (no, that I did NOT give up this year), I was racking my brain trying to think of a good top ten for this week. So many choices, you know? Like, “10 things we’ve learned from the ER” or “10 things I didn’t think I’d be doing this week” or “10 reasons why Clare won’t sleep”…but after our date night last night, I felt like a Lenten top ten was only logical. More on date night in tomorrow’s post. I know, the suspense is killing you. Hang with me.
BEST THINGS ABOUT LENT
1. It ain’t just a Catholic thing. Growing up Protestant, I always looked forward to Easter, primarily because of the chocolate bunny my Great Gan-Gan always bought me. It wasn’t until I was a freshman in college that I started to become intrigued as to this whole Lenten thing that everybody else seemd to get, but me. It’s an opportunity to really reflect and prepare your soul for the Easter Tridium.
2. We spend more time together as a family. I know, some of you are saying, “Are you sure you need more family time?” Well, yes, I do. We go to Mass more, make eating dinner together every night a priority and do more family prayer.
3. Stations of the Cross! Because of the kids and bedtimes, this isn’t something we get to do every Friday, but we do our best to make one. For those that have never heard of this, we essentially go through the 14 stations of the cross, reading a brief reflection on each and reminding ourselves of the pain and suffering Jesus endured to free us from sin. It’s powerful stuff.
4. A good excuse to eat fish. Hey, for a red-meat lover like me, fish once a week is probably a good thing.
5. I get to focus on my bad habits. Ok, so initially that doesn’t sound like it should make the top ten “best” things about Lent, now does it? Well, we all need a swift kick in the hiney to drop some bad habits. This is my chance. Lent is about prayer, fasting and almsgiving which is why we Catholics try to “give up” or “do more” during this season, in hopes that it will become a lifelong habit. So, the guy at work that gives up beer for Lent and then heads to the bar after Easter Mass probably hasn’t gotten this memo. And, in an effort to provide accountability…here are my Lenten pledges: 1) no eating out…not even a Vanilla Dr. Pepper during Happy Hour; 2) practice patience with my children by using my “inside voice”; and 3) practice patience with others by loving them, not judging them. I’ll give you a full report on March 23 🙂
6. The ashes!! Man, if I had a quarter for every person in the last 12 years that’s said, “Hey, you’ve got something on your forehead.” Really? What I love most about them isn’t the attention, but what the priest says when he makes the sign of the cross on your forehead, “From dust you were created and to dust you shall return.” Proof that we all come in, and get out, of this world the same (even though the secular media says differently).
7. That it’s the one holiday that hasn’t been completely ruined by Target, Wal-Mart and the neighborhood pharmacy. I mean, you don’t see crucified Jesus ornaments in the dollar bin, do you? For once, this liturgical season hasn’t been gobbled up by commercialism. It seems like they’re all too busy with the Easter Bunny and that’s fine by me. I’ll take these 40 days of quiet and enjoy them.
8. That I spend more time in prayer. I once had a priest tell me (after I told him that I just never seemed to have enough time to pray) this: Pray like a mom, not like a nun. I suppose I had gotten it in my head that in order to be a good mom, I needed to be on my knees alot more. Well, the truth is I spend more time in prayer than I think. And, it’s not all eloquent prayers, but it’s the real stuff I’m dealing with, day-in and day-out with the kids. And it works. Lent just reminds me that I need to stop being such a Type A, control freak and let the big man do His thing.
9. That you have the opportunity to spread the Word of God. As St. Francis of Assisi once said: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.” Amen, brother.
10. That Easter seems so much more meaningful after the 40 days. It’s almost like Paul Harvey’s “the rest of the story.” Amid the cute Easter dresses, bunny baskets and lilies, I’m reminded of the great joy on Easter Sunday. It’s like New Year’s Day for Christians, isn’t it? A new start. And, we all need one of those every once in a while…