Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Some Random Musings on Ash Wednesday

Just some odds and ends on Ash Wednesday:

Ash Wednesday looks so different with a toddler, especially one who is too young to understand what is going on. I generally try to wear more somber clothes on days like today. I'm a person for whom outward appearance really reflect my inward reality. And certainly the Church as packed up the "Gloria" along with the "Alleluia." Let's just say that, after wrestling Little Miss Energy through Mass, I had the chance to be moved by her pink "dwess" as she proclaimed over and over at lunch, "Gwowy to God in da Highst! Amen!" It might be a penitential season, but it is not to be emptied of all joy. Indeed, God is so good, and He is so every day of the year.

I'm sure others have had this experience, but the Holy Spirit has a funny way of working sometimes. I've been pondering for some time what I wanted to do as a personal fast/penance this Lent. Because of the timing of Mr. Man's arrival midway through Lent, I knew that anything too restrictive in the food/caffeine/leisure sense might be personally beneficial, but that my family needs me to be taking in plenty calories/alert/conscious enough to nurse a newborn safely, which is exactly what those things provide me in the early days. Anyway, yesterday, I had a silly epiphany. I say it is silly because it's one of those things that I could have intellectually told you, but didn't have heart/soul understanding of. Lent is not a competition. Not with yourself. Not with others. A personal fast/penance is not the chance to prove how Catholic you are by doing/giving up All the Things. It's a chance for you to make a personal sacrifice that will help you grow closer to God. With that firmly rooted in my heart, I easily identified a small, silly sacrifice I would make for this Lent. It was something that I would think about at least daily, but would not exactly rock the boat of my life at a time when I don't need more rocking than I have. I was content.

Charles and I share our Lenten plans with one another for the sake of accountability. When I told him about the little sacrifice I had chosen, he felt like it was a huge one. Perhaps I have to let go of even more than I realized. It's amazing how God works in us when we let Him.

In the vein of the Holy Spirit getting through to me, this morning, I was able to put a name ("pride") on particular struggles I have on Ash Wednesday (and Good Friday). I don't need to details my thoughts or struggles here, but putting a name on the demon is a good first step to exorcising it.

Mamas who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and anyone with other health concerns, I've heard too many stories about post-fasting problems (supply issues/headaches/dizziness/etc.) this week. Please take the Church at Her word when she says your duty to fast is lifted. Abstain from meat if you are able. Fast from junk food or snacks or media or something, but you have nothing to prove by doing a normal fast. This is from someone who has had to eat a little something on too many Ash Wednesday and Good Friday afternoons. (See above) This year, I'm skipping the junk food and keeping my meals simple, but I'm eating as my hunger dictates. I have two of us to worry about, and not eating isn't going to cut it.

I pray that this is a spiritually fruitful Lent. At the very least, I know I will be giving up being pregnant sometime in the next month or so, and taking on the joy and responsibility of raising another soul for Christ in its stead.

Peace be with you all this Lent.

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