Sacrificing Lent

Maybe the problem is that I have always enjoyed Lent just a little too much.  I’ve actually looked forward to it with excitement, thought of it as a challenge, taken on some serious disciplines and stuck to them.
But it was last year at this time that I realized that Lent wasn’t meant to be an endurance test, that unless I offered up my sacrifices in prayer, they weren’t helping me grow in holiness.
It was a lesson learned the hard way, as the Lent I wanted fell prey to the Lent God sent me.
Read the rest at Everyday Ediths.

My True Feelings about Confession

So today’s post is brought to you courtesy of the Catholic Women’s Blogger Network.  It’s part of our monthly blog hop and I totally would not be writing it if it weren’t.
Because here’s where I peek out from under my somewhat ill-fitting Catholic blogger hat and admit that my true feelings about Confession are a mixture of guilt and discomfort.  I hate that but it’s the truth.
I wrote the whole story here if you want to read it.  When did I write it?  A little over four years ago, which is the last time I went to Confession.
I can’t tell you how I long for the days when we were marched regularly into the cafeteria of St. Joseph School, with no advance warning or choice in the matter, and told that we were going to confession in the dark little closet where Father Henkel waited.  I’d stand in a red plaid line, leaning against the radiator for warmth and secretly wondering about how long certain people were taking.  Before I knew it I was all finished, back on the hard wooden kneeler saying two Our Fathers and one Hail Mary, and my soul was white as snow.
Clearly this is the Lent of hard things for me with lessons to be learned, and if I am really paying attention it would seem that this is one of them.  Will I go to our parish’s upcoming Lenten penance service and find a friendly priest in the basement to hear my uncomfortable and unprofessional recitation of sins? Only time will tell.
To read more reflections on the Sacrament of Confession, click the image below.
march blog hop

How We Lent around Here


I’m grateful that I’m committed to contributing a post to the Catholic Women Bloggers Network bloghop today, because the truth is  our family has been needing to reevaluate “how we Lent.”  What was once a pretty intense observance has in recent years become fairly cursory and my husband and I are not happy about that.

Why did this happen?  I’m going to blame a combination of factors–our move five years ago to a house half an hour away from our parish church,  no current affiliation with a Catholic school (after 14 years), and having less and less of an inclination to leave home for church events or any other events (caused probably by burnout after years of extreme involvement).


I often feel out of place when wearing my Catholic blogging hat because (as you will no doubt see if you–as you should!–read the rest of the posts in this hop) the majority of Catholic mom bloggers seem to be living faith-filled lives and setting great examples for their little kids and basically being all Catholic all the time better than I’ve ever been able to manage.  But maybe I am not the only one out there who feels this way and so I’m going to go public as Catholic slacker blogger to encourage all the rest of you to do better this Lent.

Now I am tempted to say, “We are so bad and sinful and we have been doing Lent all wrong! We are going to be so holy for forty days!  We will do all the Lent things there are!”  But I kind of feel like that is a recipe for disaster.  For several years I prided myself on my extremely strict Lenten fasting:  No meat at all–even fish–for forty days (except at the Friday fish fry).  No eating between meals.  No food at all on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday.  Nothing but liquids until supper on every Friday.  And no Sundays off!  I stopped doing that a few years ago and I am not going to do it again.  Honestly, I think that strictness is part of what triggered my “failure” in subsequent Lents.


So here is what we ARE going to do (insofar as we have planned at this point).  We will all make some form of Lenten sacrifice; we will follow all rules regarding fasting and abstinence; we will go to the Stations of the Cross EVERY Friday; I am going to participate in an online book club; and at least some of us are going to take part in this Lenten meditation.  We may do more, but that will be icing on the cake (presuming no one gives up cake!).

For more ideas for Lent observances, please visit the other posts in the hop by clicking the picture below.


How do you “do Lent” in your family?  If you want, you can tell me in the comments!


Walk in Her Sandals: A Path to Greater Holiness

Don’t laugh, but high up there on my list of personal goals is a desire for greater holiness.  I’ve known a few holy people in my life–have you?  They radiate peace and God’s love and you feel blessed to be in their presence.  I’d like to be one of those people, but they are rare.

I’d also like to be the kind of person with a prayer routine, or the kind who keeps a prayer journal, or attends daily Mass and/or adoration, or has a spiritual director.  While other women are envious of the well-kept houses and perfectly behaved children they see on Facebook and Pinterest, I’m jealous of the spirituality of the Catholic women I have encountered online.

Wow, how messed up does that sound?

As a someone who delights in reading and learning, you would think that at least I could manage some regular spiritual reading.  Yet the inspirational books with scriptural reflections for each day lie unopened on my nightstand, and my pile of unread religious books grows ever higher.  Whenever I manage to open one of those books, I fall asleep within minutes.

Life is busy and life is hard, and most of the time I have to content myself with at least the notion that I am living my faith through my actions instead of devoting time to prayer and spiritual reading.  I think that’s a bit of a cop out, though, and that’s one reason I was grateful for the opportunity I was given to read A Walk in Her Sandals: Experiencing Christ’s Passion through the Eyes of Women.

In exchange for my honest reflections and as part of my participation in the Siena Sisters blog hop, I received an advance copy of this creative take on the Passion of Jesus.  One thing I AM good with is deadlines so I was able to make time to read this book so I could share it with you.

Not that it was a big sacrifice.  I really enjoyed reading it, and I stayed awake too.  Written in sections by a team of ten Catholic women, this book is meant to be used as a Lenten study, either for an individual or a small group.  It is divided into six chapters, each showcasing a spiritual gift unique to women with accompanying scripture and exegesis, personal reflections, suggestions for prayer, questions for group discussion, and guidance for evangelization.

The heart of the book for me, though, were the stories that make up an imaginative thread that gives the book its title and its life.  Each chapter introduces us to some of the women who knew Jesus or his disciples, and invites us to experience the events of Holy Week through their eyes.  I’ve read things like this before, and they can easily seem a little too precious, but these stories were well done, the women carefully characterized, the narrative compelling and moving as each woman encountered Jesus and His message in her own way.  I just loved these stories.  They really brought the scripture, which  I of course have heard hundreds of times, to life in a new and exciting way for me.

I recommend you go here and order Walk in Her Sandals before Lent.  I plan to read it again myself at that time, and maybe I will be able to move a little further down that road to holiness by Easter.

This post is part of the CWBN Siena Sisters Blog Hop.  Click the picture below to see what everyone else had to say about Walk in Her Sandals.


Lent and a Birthday

Birthday parties and Ash Wednesday don’t mix.  That’s why we celebrated William’s 13th birthday last Saturday, with a dinner party at the Lemongrass Restaurant (William loves Asian food of all types).  There were 14 of us in attendance.  We brought the cake (red velvet) and the presents (all super-cool Lord of the Rings action figures this year) with us.  I didn’t have to clean my house before, or clean up a mess afterwards!  Win-win!
william birthday cake
But today is the actual anniversary of what was one of the peak experiences of my life–giving birth to my  13 lb. 5 oz. baby boy, a VBA3C (for the uninitiated, that means Vaginal Birth after Three C-sections).  This morning I told William his birth story as we drove to school.  He especially enjoyed hearing about how he was on television all over the country.  He was born just a bit too early or I’m sure we would have been a front page AOL news story.
newborn william
Aside from being William’s birthday, it’s also the first day of Lent, a time of year of which I am inexplicably fond.  Among other things, I’m giving up Farmville this year, which will free up a LOT of time, so I am once again going to attempt to blog every day, at least briefly, for the next 40 days.

Bring It On, Lent!

Am I strange because I like Lent?  I always have, even when I was a little girl.  Back then, we went to Mass every morning at school.  I loved the rhythmic way Father Henkel chanted, “Remember, man, thou are dust, to dust thou shall return” over and over and over.  I loved singing “These forty days of Lent, O Lord, to You we fast and pray, teach us to discipline our will and follow, Lord, Your way.”  I even loved the challenge of giving up something really difficult.  And I REALLY loved fried fish on Friday night–a real treat that we never had any other time of year.

As an adult, I got into some serious Lenten self-denial–going without meat all forty days, fasting strictly EVERY Friday, not eating between meals at all for the duration. We began going to the Stations of the Cross each week, something I never did as a child.

Yesterday because of an argument over the abstinence requirements that I was having with one of my teenagers, I was reading some relevant sections of Canon Law.  I was reminded that when the obligation to fast and abstain on EVERY Friday was removed, it was with the understanding that it was to be replaced with some other act of penitence.  And then a Facebook friend commented that when people shouldn’t announce their yearly Lenten disappearance from Facebook if they want it to count as a sacrifice.   This started me thinking–giving something up is great, if it’s done prayerfully.  When it starts being about endurance and pride, which I think my fasting had become, it’s time to do something new.  Staying off Facebook might be a great sacrifice, but not if all that happens is that it frees up extra time.  What if you used that freed time for prayer or good works.

I’m not going off Facebook, and not just because it would be difficult.  For one thing, it’s crucial to my blogging, which is something I want to be focusing on.  For another, I like to think that I use Facebook positively, to encourage my friends, to spread news I think is important for people to see, and to get needed social interaction.   There are some things I am going to cut back on for Lent, but I am also going to try to do some positive things. I’m announcing this one, but only because that’s the best way I know of to make sure I do it:  I am going to try to blog every day.  Posts may be very brief, but I’m going to try to put something out there EVERY DAY.

Somehow commitments I make before God seem to be easier to keep than resolutions that I make just for myself.  No, writing isn’t an act of penitence!  But it can be hard to sacrifice that time when I have other things to do.  And I will make  an effort to include more spiritual, religious, or uplifting posts for the next forty days.