I've always had a love/hate relationship with Lent. It's my least favorite season of all... but in a strange, twisted sort of way it's the season that I look forward to the most.
Truth is, I don't like Lent because it forces me to realize what a weeny I am when it comes to taking up my cross.
Sure, I start out in those days before Ash Wednesday like:
But before we've even hit the halfway point I'm like:
I have to admit that this year my Lent was a lot more like Jacque up there and a lot less like taking up my cross and following Christ. The thing is, I don't like being uncomfortable. I don't like making sacrifices, and I certainly don't enjoy being reminded of how weak I am. Whether it's not praying like I said I would, or eating that food that I swore I wouldn't touch until Easter Sunday, there comes a point every Lent where there's a temptation to kind of throw in the towel because I'm not as strong as I thought I'd be.
Lent 2013 was definitely not my "best". Just when I thought I had conquered a deadly sin, there it was right back in my face again, bigger and uglier than ever. It was like week after week I had a magnifying glass highlighting some dark spots on my heart that I hadn't thought about in a long time. I'm so grateful for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and that it was offered daily in my parish this Lent, but there were definitely moments when I had to ask myself, "Have I wasted my Lent?"
But as we entered Holy Week, I was reminded that even though I wasn't entering into the Triduum with a squeaky clean "Lenten report card" or basking in the feeling of reaching some new level of holiness, Christ had been walking with me through it all. No matter how far or hard I fell, it wasn't Deanna who was picking herself up again, it was always Christ standing there with outstretched arms of love and mercy.
And that's what Lent is all about.
Lent reminds me that it's not about Deanna. It's not about how organized I can be when it comes to my prayer life, and it certainly isn't about how holy I can become by my own efforts. It's all about the cross and learning how to embrace it. Not only that, it's about relying completely and totally on God's love and mercy to continue persevering in faith.
As we celebrate the Triduum I am reminded that what makes Good Friday so good and what makes the crucifix so beautiful is that it wasn't the end of the story.
The same is true for our Lenten journey. Lent is not the end of the story. Sin and death did not get the final word. And even though we may fall, perhaps even struggle with the same sins over and over again, Christ's mercy triumphs over all things. If we're willing to take that one step towards God, God will always make us whole again in His love and mercy.
Lent is not my favorite. It reminds me of how weak I am by my own efforts, and how challenging it is to really take up that cross to follow Christ. And yet, this is exactly why I love Lent so much. It reminds me that I am weak, but He is strong. I am a sinner, but Christ is my Savior. I am broken, but God will always make me whole again.
be at peace
walk on water
be not afraid
"It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ [Jesus]. Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus."- Philippians 3:12-14