If you think our Lenten promises have already created a holy household, you are probably too optimistic about us, or you haven’t seen us in action! As you may know, we have started Lent with great enthusiasm and a list of daily sacrifices. Our pre-teenage girls had decided to clean the dishes every night, be charitable to each other and keep their room tidy. Our eldest son, 11, had chosen an easier path: making his own bed and keeping his room according to normal human standards (which translates into being able to walk in it without zigzagging through clothes, breaking legs on books and crushing indistinguishable objects). Our little boys, age 4 and 6, have been trying not to tattle tail on their older siblings, in their battle of “us against the mean others”. As for us, the parents, we gave up coffee, bread, every kind of sugar and TV, on top of the normal abstention from meat on Friday. Yet most importantly we have been trying to pray more, be more patient and supportive of each other.
Has this worked? In real life, the physical sacrifices have proven to be hard but not difficult to carry out. All the little comforts of life, even food, are not impossible to control and eliminate. Overall there is a great gratification to offer up something up to Jesus while slimming down on the scale!
Yet the most challenging battle has been to resist the downward spiral of our ingrained behaviour of getting nervous, disliking each other, yelling and being lazy. Instead of filling our house with blooming roses of love and faith, we are dealing with an ocean of faults, and our daily sins that we seem unable to control. Who cares if we are in perfect shape for Easter because of our no sugar sacrifice, if our souls are like a bush of dark thorns? However, even this has been a source of revelation and ultimate grace. Who would have thought chocolate is easier to give up than not yelling at a 4 year old for eating cat food (again!) and stuffing a (dirty) toilet with his clothes (again, and again!)!
During this long Lenten journey we are gradually becoming more aware of how often we sin, and how little we have really cared about it. These little weeds of focusing on our frustration, anger and self interests, are rapidly suffocating our spiritual longing for God. While this may appear at first as a distressing truth, we feel blessed to have been able to see it. This has given us the strength to continue this unpredictable Lenten journey, longing for the healing mercy of God. God will take care of us!
Written by: Stephania (PA)