If you have been going to St. Jerome Church in Fancy Farm during Lent, Fr. Darrell Venters asks you during his sermon “How’s Your Lent Going”. We go to early Mass so when he asks the congregation is not necessarily enthusiastic. We remember that we are supposed to be excited about our response and say it with conviction but usually there’s a whole lot of “uh, yeah, okay, I guess”. Why Fr. Darrell puts up with us is beyond me, sometimes.
So, I’ll tell you how my Lent’s going. I wish, better. But I will tell you that there is not a day that goes by that anyone in my family doesn’t know that it’s Lent. We know. Trust me, we know.
Usually, we all do the same thing year after year. We give up something. We try to pray more. We go through the different services out at church. Yeah, we participate in Lent.
But this year has been different, and it has been harder.
Lent is to remind us about the life, death and resurrection of Christ. It portrays Christ’s journey into the desert, his journey out of the desert, the passion of his death and then the resurrection. This is one of the most important spiritual journeys for Christians throughout the year. It prepares you for the most holy of days, Easter Sunday and the resurrection of Christ.
Raising my family Catholic has been a joy for me. But there’s no room for slacking as the mother. It doesn’t matter how bad you feel, you have to go to Mass on Sunday. You have to get the family up and ready. And during Lent, if you’ve given up something then you can’t cheat. If you don’t want to go to Stations of the Cross, you have to go. Sometime during that season you have to make sure that everyone gets to confession.
And you can’t give in. Most years we will travel during Lent one weekend. That means that we’re out on the road on a Friday. My dear, sweet husband always makes an excuse that we can eat meat because we’re traveling. Well, I’m sure there’s a way around it but I force him to eat fish. Not that that is a sacrifice for him. Normally Fish Fry Friday is one of the best meals we eat throughout the week. So there’s not much suffering there.
And when everyone whines and says it’s really okay for us to come off our fast on Sunday or at another time I have to remind them that Jesus didn’t come out of the desert on a Sunday. I tell them that He did so much for us and asks only so little of us in return.
But getting through the fast seems to be the hardest part of Lent during the first part of Lent. But if you are truly engaged in the season then the second half of Lent can be the hardest. That is the time that you prepare for the journey of Christ coming out of the desert and the path to His death.
During Lent we are fortunate to have the opportunity to follow the Stations of the Cross
weekly as a community. And different versions are presented each week. Of course the story never changes. The story is that Christ is condemned to death and then crucified on the cross. The path of His journey never changes but hopefully our hearts change throughout the season of Lent to prepare ourselves for the celebration of the Resurrection.
I have always fussed at myself that I concentrate too much on the Passion and crucifixion. Every year I find myself wishing and hoping that this is the year that someone stands up and saves Him. We all know the story but there’s this little bit within me that wishes that He didn’t have to suffer as He did, and die.
Sometimes it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the passion of the Passion that it’s hard to see past it to the glory of Easter Sunday. Usually I berate myself for a week or two and insist that the whole thing is how it has to be in order for the scriptures to be fulfilled and (here’s the big thing here) for my sins to be forgiven. I know that it’s only through the death and resurrection that I am saved into eternal life. I know this. But oh, I wish that someone would have stood up for Him. Of course, then you have to consider that we all probably would not be following Him over 2000 years later if someone had stood up and kept Christ from being crucified. Because it is only through the crucifixion and Resurrection that we have salvation. I know that. I truly know that.
So this year, I have vowed to follow Christ’s journey out of the desert to Golgotha, and beyond. But my emphasis now is Easter Sunday morning and let me tell you, I cannot wait. If you were to tell me that I was anxious for peanut M&Ms, Dove chocolates and malted milk balls, I would tell you that you know me well. But I cannot wait for the Resurrection. I cannot wait for the Acts of the Apostles and those guys trying to figure out what they are supposed to do now. Because I am just like that in my faith journey. I’m great when someone tells me what I need to be doing. But give me a little bit of free will and woosh, there goes my good intentions. I cannot wait for the promise of Pentecost and the hope of the Holy Spirit. I cannot wait for the mysteries of the Risen Christ and all that He accomplished after the Resurrection. And I cannot wait for His Ascension into heaven and the promise of His second coming.
So, looking past Lent, and the Passion, and the Crucifixion and the Resurrection offers so much promise for all of us. All we have to do is be open to it and keep our eyes open. We need to always be ready.