Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Is This Not the Fast That I Choose

I want so bad to put up some eloquent and lovely post on the Lenten season. We celebrate the mystery of the death of Christ and his resurrection, with a special call for repentance, and if anything deserves thought and elucidation, it's that.

As I type, my children are fighting downstairs, and I really should log-off and address this, but they've been home for like a week now, and my patience has just about dried up, like a once-flowing stream that has turned into a trail of cracked dirt. That's where I am, folks.

I keep telling myself that I don't need to be more than what I am, but I do need to be better. Or instead of 'better,' perhaps more aware. Or open.

I was looking forward to Ash Wednesday services tomorrow, at 9:15am, but I have realized that my youngest might be home with me. Funny thing. Her preschool has scheduled a 'pajama day' party, and my children thoroughly dislike such events, with all the school kids gathered in the basement yelling and running and just being kids. They like order and relative quiet and calm behavior, except when I leave them alone at the breakfast table for the purpose of trying to compose a post on Lent.

So I was thinking of just keeping her home, or going with her. Which would mean I'd miss Ash Wednesday services, which also makes me want to cry. Because how can I be better if the one thing that helps to ground me stays elusive? That thing, of course, is time. I know my call right now isn't towards contemplation, for this very reason, but I desire it. At least a bit of it.

I suppose I could keep her home and take her with me, but I'm still working on that selfish part of me that wants to leave everyone else at home and take Mass all for myself. Because I'm still and silent and listening and not worrying that someone is scooting around too much on the bench or bending the hymnals or playing with/tripping over the kneelers or asking for a snack. It's a process.

I've been reading about other options for Lent, other than your typical sacrifices. Since I'm such a novice at my faith (even being a cradle Catholic), last year was my first foray back into Lenten sacrifice, and I gave up gossip sites. I confess to having read them daily, and knew what my clicks were contributing to, so I figured it was something worthy to do. And I haven't been back. So I consider that sacrifice worthwhile. It's one nasty thing I'm free of.

But I do understand the writings about vowing to be more loving, kinder, more generous this Lent, instead of opting for a requisite 'giving up.' Sacrifice, when you think about it, can be pretty meaningless. What's the point of giving something up for spiritual reasons, really, if you don't follow through on the need to give out? The reading for Ash Wednesday, from Isaiah 58: 1-12, which I quote from below, highlights just that.

"Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wicked-
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with
the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into
your house;
when you see the naked, to cover
and not to hide yourself from
your own flesh?"

Yeah. Sometimes you just need to let someone else say it.

I'm pretty new, though, to this resurge in faith, so I am still going old school and will give something up. This year, I am abstaining from eating after dinner, which, if you know me, you also know this isn't something that will be easy. I do appreciate some nachos at 10:00pm. And I pretty much have some kind of snack (sometimes two) after dinner, and tend to see this late night food as a reward, so this will certainly be a nightly struggle.

Perhaps I can take this move away from gluttony and run with it. I'm hoping I can feed myself -- because, Lord knows, my cup, plate and everything else runneth over -- with something else.

Isaiah's encouragement is sound. We do not fast solely for our own benefit. Because I know I can feed others too, for these 40 days, and beyond.


flutter said...

This is positively beautiful

Anonymous said...

My day did not go quite how I would have planned it either. Our parish offered three masses - two while I'm at work and one at 5:30 which has got to be the worst possible time - too early for people who want to go after dinner and too late for people who want to go before (yeah, I'm obviously not into the fasting mode yet. I just told my husband we're having grilled hamburgers tonight because it's been a while since we had red meat. Whoops.) My best bet was the service just for ashes at 3 pm, but I've been relying so much on babysitters that I felt it was an imposition to ask for my MIL to watch one or both of my kids while I went. I asked Fiona how she'd feel about missing church on Ash Wednesday, and she said "Happy!", so that pretty much helped me make up my mind that there was no need to knock myself out rushing around. I plugged into the Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral with my headphones while I was at work.

The 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent are the time for the Scrutinies, when we all examine our lives for ways in which we can change our lives to more fully live the values we embrace in our faith. Lent is an opportunity for all to prepare for the renewal of their baptism at Easter.

This Sunday, if you go to a service where they are offering a Rite of Sending for the catechumens, think of me. I will meet the Archbishop, sign the Book of the Elect, and prepare for my own scrutiny. I wonder how I will find the time and the frame of mind to do this the way I'd like to.

St Edwards Blog said...

Your writing is really gorgeous, wow.

I hear your struggle and far be it from me to say, but I think it is probably where you need to be. That is not meant in any sort of "suffer and offer it up" but rather that the struggle has the tone of authenticity; it is the rough patch on the journey.

You are wise to note that we do not fast for ourselves at all and that we are to feed many. I find that at once encouraging and daunting, but very true.

For De who commented right above, I will pray for you this Sunday as you go forth and sign the Book of the Elect. And I can't tell you how many burgers I have eaten on Ash Wednesdays, Fridays and more. Worry not, it all work itself out as it is meant to. I think it always does anyway.

Fran (me here in my other identity!)

Kelly said...

De -- You bet I'll keep you in mind this Sunday with some prayers. What a fantastic day. And you certainly know the last sentence of your comment is something that I can assuredly relate to.

Fran -- can you be my counselor? :)
Some days I'm completely okay with where I am and what I'm doing, and some days I feel this panic, like I'm just not getting it right. Although what 'right' is, I cannot exactly say!