Especially after yesterday's news that gave the entire Catholic world a shock.
Pope Benedict XVI was pope when I came back to the Church; he was elected on my birthday. I have a special place in my heart for him, always will. So, his resignation is a sad moment for me, as it is for many, many people. But from following this humble, brilliant, faith-filled man very closely over the past years, I can say with great confidence and faith that this is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Elizabeth Scalia put it beautifully in her post on the subject:
If John Paul went out like the sustained note of a grand organ, fading into silence, Benedict simply senses his tiredness and the hour, closes up his piano, and bids us adieu. Ratzinger, in the end, is still Ratzinger: he does his work, kisses it all up to the Holy Spirit and moves on, not particularly concerned about the peripheral yakking of man or media.
So, like many of you, I am feeling a bit down.
I also had a minor surgery recently that took me longer than expected to recover from, and this, in combination with the pope news, is helping me to feel mentally unprepared for Lent. Normally, I would be all ready to go for Lent. I would have some ideas brewing. I start to get stoked to make sacrifices, and to live life in higher tension. Usually, Jesus gives me an idea of a theme for each Lent, (yes this is strange but Jesus knows me, I am like the Martha Stewart of Lent).
But this year, as Ash Wednesday approaches, I find myself feeling, well, blah.
So, in the interest of pumping myself up, I am going to give myself a few pointers (and hopefully they are helpful to you too!):
1. You Don't Plan Lent, God Plans Lent: You can plan all you want and pick that perfect thing to sacrifice that no one will notice, that will make you think you are holy and have you sweetly suffering all forty days long - but none of that matters a whole lot to the Big Guy. God has a plan for your Lent, and you know what - God is a procrastinator. It might take him a while to communicate what that plan is, it might just unfold minute by minute, day by day. Are you going to be too involved in your own self inflicted sacrifices to notice?
2. Lent is an Adventure, Embrace It!: Here's a crazy idea, what if instead of choosing your own crazy sacrifices, you accepted the sacrifices that every day naturally brings you - with a smile, serenity, and yes it's possible - joy! Smiling at the annoying co-worker who visits you in your cubicle every day to ask the same question seems much harder than giving up chocolate you say? Yah, that's kind of the point.
3. Lent as Practicing Virtue: There's a reason St. Thomas wrote about the virtues obsessively. Holiness is our goodness in relationship to God, but the way this goodness can translate to action is in the practice of virtue. If we judge by most sacrifices made in Lent, it would seem that most people think they need to work on the virtue of temperance, but I am not sure they actually think of Lenten sacrifices in terms of practicing virtue! It might help to think of the virtue that you need to work on and then pick a sacrifice that will help you to work on it. This list might help.
You will be in my prayers during Lent, please pray for me!
I may or may not be posting much during Lent, I am going to leave it up to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, (here's to hoping He doesn't ask me to resign!) :)
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Please feel free to comment with any ideas for Lent. And if you have any prayer requests during this time, please let me know and I will put them in the sisters’ prayer intention book.