Lenten Thoughts

It’s nearly mid-Lent, and this is a collection of semi-random Lenten thoughts.

In today’s homily (a really great one), we got a solid dose of the urgent need to repent.  Fr. didn’t mince words, and made the metaphor in the Gospel explicit:  Jesus is every day interceding with the Father to give us just one more year, or week, or day.  It is up to us to make use of that extra time to repent and turn back to God.

This connects with something that’s been kicking around the back of my head since the start (well, the announcement, really) of the Year of Mercy.  Mercy is a gift.  What we deserve is God’s harsh judgement.  Instead, what we get is His incredible mercy.  That isn’t to presume upon mercy, not by any means, but if we were being truly honest, God has every right to wipe us out because of our failings.  He loves us perfectly; we only love Him imperfectly, if at all.  His perfect love gives us the free will to sin, even against Him.  He is waiting to take us back, if only we ask for His mercy. Part of His mercy is that we have another day in which we can convert, to fight against our fallen nature and turn towards Him.

We’re trying out a new Lenten discipline this year.  I’ve put seven candles on a board in the shape of the cross, and we’re lighting one each Friday during Lent, sort of like an Advent wreath.  We’re maintaining silence during dinner (or as much silence as can obtain with four children, two of whom are three years old), while I read one of the penitential psalms.  It is actually going pretty well.  This week, in addition to the silent dinner, the kids kept really quiet after dinner and as they got ready for bed.

In the past, we’ve tried variations of a Tenebrae service during Holy Week.  I think the combination of kids being too young and me not being selective enough with the readings (the actual readings for a typical Tenebrae are really, really theologically deep) has translated into something less than successful.  This year we’ll try again, but keep it simple with doing the four Suffering Servant readings from Isaiah.  I love the Book of Isaiah, and have studied the Songs of the Suffering Servant before, so I should be able to make the meaning come through.

Next Sunday the fourth Sunday of Lent, is Laetare Sunday.  It’s just like Gaudete Sunday in Advent, serving to mark the midpoint of the season.  That just underscores how short Advent is compared to Lent, and explains why, when growing up, I always felt like Lent dragged on for ages while Advent just flew by.  It also means that I need to get cracking on the Easter dresses I have planned.