"I am participating in the Keeping LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013,
Raising (& Teaching) Little Saints, Truly Rich Mom, and Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families. We share different ways, tips, stories, an real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE. Please scroll to the end of the post to see the list of link-up entries."
Although I was raised in a Catholic household, this is my first Lent in spirit. As a child, Lent meant no meat on Fridays, supposedly giving something nice up (not that I ever did), and being sad (no swimming, no laughing, no telly) from 3pm Good Friday until Easter Sunday. The past year or so, I have been gradually waking up to God. (Or rather, He has been ever gently but firmly waking me from a deep deep sleep.) And as I look around me, I realize how ignorant I am of so much about being Catholic. It was only in the recent weeks that I realized that St Paul wrote most of the Letters that are part of the 2nd Readings in the Mass, and that there are Catholic and Protestant versions of the Bible. I had asked my teacher V for advice on how to read the Bible, and he told me to pay attention to the footnotes. “What footnotes?” I asked. Hmm. Perhaps it was time to buy a grown-up Bible. I was still using my Precious Moments Children’s Bible that I had purchased when I was 16, the one with cartoon pictures instead of footnotes. (I never actually read much of it. Back then, it was an accessory for hanging out with my best friend, who had one crush after another on Korean boys from various born-again Christian churches. We spent plenty a Friday night fellowship-hopping.) In any case, despite having promised myself about two weeks ago to forgo buying any more books on amazon until April, I bought a “grown-up” Bible and a second-hand copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. After these purchases, I will really not buy any more books on amazon until April. (Really.) I’m also trying to fast on the weekdays. I used to think that fasting was not eating at all. But our parish priest recently brought up that fasting meant 1 normal meal, and 2 small meals (together not making up a full meal) a day. Now I understand how Moses, Jesus, and the saints could fast for 40 days. (Even though I am aware that fasting is not about dieting, I can't help but think that that’s more food in a day than one gets on the Slimfast plan!) It’s doable. Or at least, that’s what I tend to think in the morning. By 5pm, I am very hungry and lightheaded, and I allow myself to have a few pieces of Darvita to tide me over to dinner (my full meal). Darvita is salted cardboard marketed as a healthy high-fiber snack cracker in Switzerland. Willingly eating Darvita should definitely count as a Lenten penance. I am also trying to be more patient with the children and raise my voice less. (This is by far the hardest part, and where I fail consistently.)
Our HGU session this week fell on Pancake Tuesday. I handed the children their Kinderofper (Children’s Offering) bags. For Lent, the children are to donate some money that they’ve earned (for instance, by doing small chores for their parents) or pocket money that they’ve saved, for helping the poor. It is true that you don’t really learn something until you have to teach it. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to talk with the kids about what Lent is all about, why the 40 days, why we give something up. Then I realized that I didn’t actually know. I had some vague idea that parts of it had to do with sharing in Jesus’ suffering, but couldn’t coherently explain these whys. My ignorance astounds me. It is the blind leading the blind. Anyway, thank goodness for answers that can be found on the Internet.
Frivolity and attempts to elicit chuckles from my readers aside, my Lenten season is about repenting for my errant ways, and cleaving ever closer to Him in love. Jesus Himself reminded me that Repentance allows for a closer and deeper love. A few weeks ago, during our holiday in India, we planned a day trip to Old Goa to visit its famous churches. On the bus ride over, a self-congratulating thought drifted into my head. “When I think of the Sorrowful Mysteries, I now only see Love.” Oh, how evolved I now am, how far I’ve come in the last while, I thought, mentally patting myself on the back. It was as if Jesus heard me, and set about to correct me, reminding me Himself that Repentance was the other side of the coin. Less than half an hour after I entertained this thought, as we exited the chapel housing St. Francis Xavier’s relics in the Cathedral of Bom Jesus, I was confronted with the most painful depiction of the Crucifixion I have ever seen. A life-sized figure of Christ is hung on the Cross, dying. He is raw red bleeding flesh, with only a few thin strips of skin that have not been torn away by the scourging. Ross left to find the others in our group. I leaned against a pillar, suddenly weak at the knees with remorse. In shame, I wanted to turn away from this sight, and yet I could not tear my eyes away. What monstrosities did we do when Pure Love chose to manifest Himself as one of us. How, in our sins and in our pride, we inflicted such suffering upon Him, and how He loved us so fully nonetheless. If this is what we are capable of doing with our Free Will, I wanted none of it. It felt wrong to take a picture. The searing memory of this scene in my mind’s eye is more than enough a reminder. Ross found the rest of our group and we moved on. I said nothing to the others about this experience*.
*This experience is one of many I've had this past year that convince me that God is a Personal God who intervenes in our daily lives, who knows our thoughts and our hearts, and who hears and answers our prayers!
|my (wintry) way home|
Check out the Lent reflections participating in the Keep LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013! We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories, and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeps, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE.
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This post also links to RAnn's Sunday Snippets. Thanks again for hosting, RAnn!