With three children involved in basketball tournaments, Lent has taken a backseat these last two weeks. What can we do to “refresh” it quickly before Holy Week is upon us?
Refresh is a perfect word! We must refresh our Lenten intentions every day. We are so easily pulled off course: basketball tournaments, spring colds, St. Paddy’s day revelry, people coming to visit. What looked like a clear, straight path on Ash Wednesday has meandered into distraction.
Do not despair. This is the way of the divine/human journey, the way of life, the way of the Paschal Mystery. Renewal is not just the overall theme of the season, it is a necessary component along the way. Losing the path and searching for it again and again is the path.
Fasting, almsgiving, and prayer are the three spiritual practices of Lent. My husband and I do couple lectio divina (an ancient method of praying with the Scriptures) as a shared prayer practice during Lent.
We are using the psalm verses from each day’s readings for our lectio. We place the Bible on our living room couch each day as a reminder that we will meet there in the evening to listen to the psalm together and share the word the Lord gives to each of us through the divine reading/listening.
This practice is reaping wonderful fruits for us. It is an intimate faith sharing and a beautiful ending to our day.
Last week our daughter came to stay with us and in the hustle and bustle of getting the house ready for her visit, our Bible got put on my husband’s dresser. The week was filled with family, friends, appointments, events and later than usual bedtimes. We only did our lectio once the whole week. The time with our daughter was a blessing every day, and the Lord was surely smiling on us. We didn’t forget the Lord, but I admit that our awareness of Lent did get somewhat dim.
At each meal, however, we lit our purple candle and said grace; we each prayed our daily prayers, and we shared much love and togetherness throughout the week. We were keeping Lent, because we kept on loving.
|Questions for Christ may be sent to her at Catholic Herald Parenting, P.O. Box 070913, Milwaukee, WI, 53207-0913 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
What are the Lenten practices for? They are to help us clear our spiritual antennae so we can tune in and experience Jesus in our midst. We follow him to Calvary so we can learn to love in a deeper, wider, more self-giving way than we ever thought possible. He shows us how to do that. Every spiritual practice, during Lent and every liturgical season, has love as its goal.
It’s a new week; our daughter has left – how we already miss her – and I put the Bible back on the living room couch. It’s time to return to the practices that will pierce the layers of distraction and bring us back to Jesus’ story, which is our story.
It may help your family to have a little renewal meeting to discuss getting back to your practices. What were each person’s original Lenten intentions? What has fallen away that each would like to restore? Is it time to simplify, so each person or the family as a whole, can really recommit to one or two practices?
How can family members support one another in keeping their intentions? Returning to your Lenten practices strengthens your discipline (you are disciples of Christ), and as St. Paul assures us: “At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it. So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed” (Heb 12:13).
(Christ is a consultant in ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The married mother of four young adult children, she gives talks and workshops, leads retreats and is a spiritual director. Christ self-publishes materials for parishes, and is the author of “Journeying with Mark,” “Journeying with Luke” and “Journeying with Matthew.” Published by Paulist Press, the books are intended to be used by families in the car on the way to Mass.)