Friday, April 3, 2020

A Holy Week Shortcut (If Lent Ran You Over)

Also shared under the title "One Small Thing: Family Sacrifices For Holy Week" at Sacred Heart Blog


Look, I'm exhausted and just about done. 

It's hard to remember the penances I picked up for Lent several weeks ago. Something about more prayer, more silence… nothing about suddenly home-schooling five kids ages 4-10 with different usernames and passwords for each of the 400 apps in their curriculum. 

But here we are, ramming into Holy Week like the U.S. Coast Guard's Polar Star ice-breaking through the Antarctic -- I've taken to watching National Geographic instead of sleeping -- and where has Lent gone? 

One of my Lenten resolutions was healthier eating: I will better care for this body God has given me. Yesterday, I ate a family-size bag of Starbursts by myself while the kids were napping and called it "lunch." So, um, yeah. 

Maybe, like me, Lent has run you over this year. 

It's tempting to trudge on through Holy Week, live-stream Easter, and then let go, tumbling under the unpredictable surf of life-in-quarantine.

If Easter feels like just a pinprick of light in our current, cloudy unknown, then steady on: let's use this Holy Week, even in our smallness, despite our defeats, to reach toward the light of Easter.

Maybe, like me, you're too exhausted to climb the stairs to heaven. If you're feeling weary, numb, anxious, burdened, or inadequate, take a shortcut with me this Lent; the arms of Jesus are an elevator to heaven, says St. Thérèse:


"I'm too little to climb the rough staircase of perfection… So I came, wanting to know, God, what You would do with the simple, little one… Here is what I've found: 'As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.' Oh! The elevator that must lift me up to heaven is Your arms, Jesus!"

- St. Thérèse of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul

Below are some small ways -- maybe choose just one -- to prepare our hearts this Holy Week, looking with hope toward Easter:

1. Watch a family movie, snuggled on the couch with kids and popcorn. Our kids love the "Brother Francis" series, and it's available on Formed.org, along with many other kid-friendly movies. (Access is free when you select our parish on the sign-up page.)

2. Breathe a prayer of thanks for something beautiful you see on a walk. Today I smiled to see a cardinal. My kids rejoiced at "a gigantic goldfish that must be eating all the little fish because how did he get so big!?!"

3. Pause for 2 minutes at noon to pray The Angelus as a family. If it turns out to be 12:15 or 12:30 or 1, don't sweat it.

4. Pause for 10 minutes at 3 PM to sing The Divine Mercy Chaplet as a family. When a kid needs to go potty at 3:03 PM, don't sweat it. 

5. If you're a parent of a young child, go to the bathroom when you need to go to the bathroom (instead of waiting till the last possible second because you're helping everyone else). Maybe even shut the door behind you! In your few seconds of solitude, you might pray: Thank You, Lord, for my humanity! Thank You for helping me put into practice the reality that I am not a robot caretaker; I am a real person whose most basic needs are also important

6. Offer a small moment of gratitude for yet another meal of beans-and-rice.

7. Catch some Holy Week services at our parish, live-streamed from Sacred Heart's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sacredheartconroe. (Click here for the schedule.)

8. Dialogue with calm goodwill on a social media comment feed, especially one that makes you angry. Or maybe, just close your browser and walk away from the dumpster fire. Lord, have mercy.

9. Commit to intentional moments of self-care each day: eat a piece of fruit, drink a glass of water, take a nap, take a shower, recognizing through these acts that you are good and God desires your wholeness for his work in this world.

10. Find a moment of laughter with God while turning peanut butter, cranberry sauce, and mystery wheat-substitute reject pasta into a kid-friendly plate of food.

If, like me, you've failed in all of your resolutions this Lent, then thanks be to God, we're still not too late for Easter. God doesn't want our perfect asceticism; He wants our hearts.

In what small ways can I give God my heart this Holy Week?

Photo by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash
*Also published April 2020 at Sacred Heart Blog

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