This year, I didn’t pull out the Lenten decorations I use as visual aids to help my children during the forty days in the desert. My crown of thorns wreath, the purple cloth, the sacrifice jar and the other small devotional items I implement as best Lenten practices stayed housed in their Rubbermaid containers in the garage.
I suppose this is sacrilegious to admit, especially when I’ve worked so hard to earn the title of Catholic Mom Blogger. This admission is even worse, of course, when you consider my blog exists amongst the hundreds upon thousands of other Catholic mom blogs filled with tips and directives to help the little people live Lent well.
Oh, to be one of the spiritual elite…
Though it’s practically dummy proof, I wasn’t able to keep up with the Holy Heroes program, which my children always love. As a family, we all made a resolution to cut back on sweets and yet, the Friday before Holy Week, I found myself handing out lollypops to everyone. I think it was Holy Thursday before I realized my youngest children had not read any of the great Lenten or Easter stories we have on our shelves.
And I don’t know about you, but I always have at least one moment during Holy Week where I realize I’m just like Peter, who claims to love Jesus, but then denies Him three times.
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak?
Maybe, but it doesn’t erase my yearly Peter moment where I warm myself over the fire, my mouth speckled with hamburger crumbs and chocolate frosting as I insist,
“Jesus? Jesus who? I don’t know anyone by that name!”
I was at a baby shower a few weeks ago and a friend of mine, who is enduring some major personal suffering, said,
“I hope my Easter feels as Eastery as my Lent has felt Lentish.”
To which I responded,
“Even if Easter doesn’t feel like Easter, Jesus will still rise. The Resurrection is going to happen.”
Which I guess this is the whole point.
Our efforts to sacrifice and pray and remember are never enough. They’re paltry and seemingly insignificant. What’s helpful about the sacrifices we offer and the liturgical reminders we sprinkle about our house is they are means to bring us closer to Christ.
But it’s not Christ who needs the sacrifice or the reminders.
We need them.
We need to remember how pitiful we are.
We need to recognize the truth in the words uttered by the priest as he scratches our foreheads with burnt ashes on that Wednesday, the first day of Lent. We really are dust and we really shall return to dust when this life is over and so our Lenten efforts—and whether or not we were successful—don’t really matter.
On Good Friday, Jesus is going to die on the cross and on Easter Sunday, He is going to rise. His power to resurrect from the dead comes from the fact He is God made man, not because I practiced my Lenten penances faithfully.
On Easter Sunday, I sat in a pew in a small, Floridian mission church and I cried, just like I cry every year.
I cried because my pitiful attempts at sacrifice pale in comparison to His Great Sacrifice, and that kind of love—if you really think about it—should make anyone cry.
I cried because I’m grateful for a God who loves me so much—chocolate frosting face and all—that He endured a torturous death, even though I grumble about the smallest of mortifications.
And I cried because while I failed at many of my Lenten resolutions, Jesus never fails me.
That is some Good News indeed.