This year I had high hopes of getting the kids to mass. I even planned to take the boys with me to the school mass at our church hoping seeing other kids behave would inspire my two-year-old to do the same and knowing the homily would be more to their level. I had such high hopes.
And then I got up 30 minutes early on Ash Wednesday, I completed my Morning Offering, Invitatory, and some reflection with Amy Welborn-Dubriel. I took a shower and got dressed, I got Shelby up and off to school. I went in to wake up the boys.
Joey was very excited to go to mass, “and have someone put ashes on me.” So getting him up was no problem. Will was very whiny and when he rolled over, I knew why. His eyes were crusted over. Both of them. Last year all three kids had a gastro-intestinal virus. And it appeared that this year, pink-eye was on the menu. I cleaned his eyes (he couldn’t open them prior) and stuck him in the tub. Then, to add insult to injury, we didn’t have any of his typical breakfast foods on hand and that was more than his two-year-old heart could bear. He sobbed for a good forty minutes. Between threatened pink-eye and his mood, mass was not on the menu. (Good news though, his eyes cleared up as the day went on and it turned out to just be allergies acting up, but I didn’t want to take the chance as bad as they were when he woke up.)
Joey and I were bummed, but I realized it was necessary. This year for Lent, I am, as last year, giving up facebook with the added caveat this year that I am not having private messages forwarded to my email. I let people know in advance and several requested my email and phone number before the start of Lent so they could reach me if needed. I am also checking my email less often which has numerous benefits as well. I have started the Divine Office this year and am continuing that. I am also using Father Robert Morneau’s reflections in Ashes to Easter. I have also decided I need to read the Bible more and devote one hour a day to reading and I am taking notes, writing down events and verses. As of today, Jacob just stole the blessing from Esau and is fleeing to Laban to find a wife (little did he know, he was getting two, I am sure my husband and many others do NOT envy him that!). I also have been saying the Rosary (the sorrowful mysteries every day along with the traditional mysteries for the day…on Tuesdays and Fridays I say all four sets of mysteries) and the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows. And I have made a special devotion to the Angelus at noon and Chaplet of Diving Mercy at 3 pm. Yes, it is a lot, but I’ve been Catholic almost 33 years now, so I think I’m ready for this type of challenge!
So fasting: giving up facebook (check)
Prayer: well, see the previous paragraph, I believe we are covered!
Almsgiving…at first I found this problematic. After all I am not working right now and usually I would give up a luxury to donate that money either to my parish or the crisis pregnancy center or some other charity. It’s not a lot, but it’s about what it represents. Well, this year, that was out of reach. It is close to impossible for me to volunteer with the boys home all day. So, what to do…then, yesterday, shortly after mid-morning prayer, I got a phone call from a mother of one of Shelby’s classmates, she was upset about something and needed to vent on her way to her part-time job. We talked for about a half-hour and about five minutes before the conversation ended, I realized how much listening I was doing and how much she needed me to listen and to help her work through her problem. The night before I had spent an hour on the phone with the mother of another of Shelby’s classmates where she told me many things weighing heavily on her heart including how disconnected she felt from God and her church community (she was raised Southern Baptist and her father is a deacon) because of her child’s autism. I realized that sometimes, the charity we give is not to those the world classifies as “needy” but to the people who actually need us. Both of these mothers “needed” me at that moment and I gave my time and my ear. By disconnecting from facebook, I am forcing myself and others to make more personal and immediate connections and that has opened me up to give my time and and attention to people who need me. And that will be my almsgiving for this year. Where there is a will, God makes a way.
I wish all of you a joyous and spirit-filled Lent.
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace! ~Numbers 6:24
He must increase, I must decrease. ~John 3:30
Be still, and know that I am God. ~Ps 46:10