My husband, a convert to Catholicism dubbed the Sundays of lent as “loophole Sundays” when he discovered that our forty days of fasting had some convenient escape clauses. My mother, in her wisdom assured him that yes, we still get in our forty days, but that Sundays are a mini Easter, and so we do not fast on those days, we celebrate.
As a cradle Catholic and not knowing any different I have no problem with how this all plays out. I would, as a child stockpile my contraband peanut M&Ms and first thing on Sunday morning I would rip into that bag like it was my only source for survival. My neighbor Barb, the dear older lady across the street makes me laugh as she recalls how her and her husband back in the day wouldn’t even wait until morning. Come Saturday at midnight they were poised to attack their cigarettes and chocolate cake with great alacrity.
Today it seems like these traditions of fasting, and prayer, and almsgiving have lost that zeal with the younger generations. Now I don’t like being one of those woe is me kinds who shakes their fist in condemnation at how sinful and lost the younger generation is- there but for the grace of God go I anywhere! I like being a positive person and you will certainly get more flies with honey than vinegar, so instead I like to focus on how much God loves us, and wants so much for us to come back to Him. Sin is sin of course. The devil is really good at glossing over the ugliness with his lies and deceit, so it is a fine balance in not growing too complacent with only thoughts of God’s love, and not His infinite justice.
Lent is His special gift to humans. His goal is always to draw us back. Our brains stay on task for such a short amount of time! We are so easily distracted by the flashy stuff, the bangles and bells, and that seems to be so much more fun than fasting, and praying. How boring and yucky is that?!
But I have found, in my vast experience and wisdom and knowledge (hee hee) that the times when I am the most complete, most attached to God, when I am truly the happiest- if that’s the right word are the times when I am dug deep in the trenches of life. Sort of like now, and training for this marathon. Today I head into week fourteen of eighteen. I am just about over the hump and into the home stretch of training. And what have I accomplished for myself thus far? Well not a ton of weight loss, that’s for sure. Certainly with having a goal and destination set firmly on the calendar, I have actually done pretty well at “drinking that cup” each day, of completing as best as I can every physical challenge, but more than that, God has helped me to be attached to Him more than I ever have been.
I find that with adversity comes a closer union with God, with the cross, if you allow it to be so. As humans we tend to want to handle it by ourselves, “I got it. I got it.” And then usually our tactic is to run away, to run as far from the hurt and difficulties as possible, going on and on about the worthlessness of suffering. The stupidity of the hard stuff, what a waste of time to do anything willingly that causes pain. Take a pill. Make it go away.
What I have found and what I really want to shout out from this tiny little soapbox I got here is that there really is value in pushing the limits, of rolling up your sleeves and accepting the cross, even the little ones. If we could only see how much value, we would change the world.
And whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:38-39)