How is your Lent going? It’s Passiontide (which I only just really learned about by going to a Dominican event with chanting and lots of candles last night), which means we have two weeks to really buckle down and get serious about this Lent thing.
It’s so nice we get all these chances, like Laetare Sunday and Passiontide as a little reminder to get serious, and then in case we still didn’t get the picture, Holy Week swoops in all serious and solemn to set us straight. The Church just really gets my distracted ENFP ways.
How is my Lent going? To be honest, my Lent is going AWESOME. I know that’s not really any kind of proper grammar or syntax… but this is my blog and there is no style guide.
I’ve had a few bumps in my Lenten road that in other years would have made me feel like a failure or had me throwing in the towel, but honestly, I don’t think I have ever had a more meaningful or centering Lent. You may remember all my ambitious Lenten practices from February, and I’d like to revisit them.
Buckle up or abandon ship: I have a lot to say about this.
Whole40: Nah. This just wasn’t good. I got to day 26 before I quit outright, which feels respectable, but it was not adding more spiritual value to my life in any way as a fast. I decided to not buy lunch at work following that fail, and honestly, that has been much better, both in terms of easiness and mindfulness about what I’m eating and how I’m spending money. I think I am done with that Whole30 path.
Spiritual reading only: Going well, but slowly. I finished Between Heaven and Mirth and Life of the Beloved quickly at the beginning of Lent, but Orthodoxy is challenging to say the least. I am hoping to finish it up before Easter by carving out some intentional time for it. I also need to make moves with The Cloud of Unknowing (recommended by my spiritual director) and Love Does for the Blessed is She book study.
Make my bed daily: I’ve been doing this. Don’t have any real deep takeaways about it, but it’s a good habit.
Praying the Act of Contrition and Memorare before bed: Have not been perfect with this (sometimes I just fall asleep, okay?!), but I have both prayers actually memorized for the first time ever which feels great. These are two prayers I could stumble through in a group-prayer setting but never had down pat. I would like to have more prayers really memorized this way because I love praying traditional form prayers. To be honest, I really only had the Rosary prayers and the traditional grace before meals memorized before learning the Morning Offering last year, so I have a way to go. Please, if you have recommendations, please let me know.
Somewhat surprising and extremely beneficial Lenten practices:
Now, here’s where things. are. happening. for me. Let’s do another breakdown.
Daily readings and journaling: I ordered the Lent Blessed is She journal (“Only One Thing” – pictured above), which includes a listing for the daily readings. I had been reading the readings and reflection in the daily BiS devotional email, but there is something very grounding about reading them from my physical Bible and journaling on them. I’ve been able to see themes that have popped out to me and feel very in tune with the emotional roller coaster of the Lenten lectionary. I did so poorly with using the Advent journal in a real way that I am very pleased with how few days I have missed. I plan to go back and reflect on the 3 or 4 days of readings that I didn’t journal on before Easter.
Confession opportunities: I am generally a somewhat sporadic confession-goer. I hadn’t gone in years and years before this past Memorial Day weekend but had picked up the habit again somewhat, going about half a dozen times before the end of the year. I went just before Lent and have gone twice during Lent – so three times in about six weeks. It’s not easy for me, and I get really self-conscious and weird about it and still always feel like I’m doing it wrong… but damn, walking out of the confessional knowing that my soul is so fresh and so clean (clean) (sorry), is honestly revelatory. A non-Catholic coworker was recently surprised that “people actually do that,” and I found myself explaining why I go. I think I said, “You know that feeling when you said or did something stupid and you keep thinking ‘why did I do that?!’? Going to confession makes that feeling go away for everything weighing me down.” It’s the truth. It’s so scary every time, but so worth it.
Beginning spiritual direction: I’d been getting hit over the head with encouragement to start meeting with a spiritual director, so I did! It’s been great so far. We’ll see where it leads.
Just going to a lot of Catholic stuff: Lent has presented HELLA opportunities to participate in the life of the Church. Basically every week has had multiple opportunities to pray and connect with other people traveling through this season.
This weekend alone, I went to the Passiontide vigil with some friends (and then a party), went to a short afternoon retreat at my parish before evening Mass, and then the coffee house hosted by our parish Dominican brothers on Sunday nights. These coffee house events have been a great, easy addition to Lent for me. A short and insightful 20 minute from the two young, savvy men – [insert a-ok hand emoji here]. Like today – an explanation of the Trinity using a cryptic 15th century icon that was digestible, well-explained, and finally gave me a working understanding of the Trinity that I actually get? Please AND thank you, Brother Gabriel and Brother Patrick. I still need to get to a Stations of the Cross service and am going to try to hustle myself to one on Friday.
Which leads me to what is on deck for the rest of Lent and Holy Week!
Two novenas: I will be praying the St. Josemaria Escriva Novena for Work for someone very close to me and the Mary, Undoer of Knots Novena for a dear friend with a special intention. I am starting tomorrow (Monday), which takes me to the Tuesday of Holy Week. This seems like perfect timing, before diving into the excitement of Holy Week on Spy Wednesday.
Seven Church Walk: Our Archdiocese young adults group copped the traditional Roman city pilgrimage for DC, and I am looking forward to it as I was out of town for it the last two years. Unsure how that’s even possible.
Spy Wednesday: Tenebrae! I think the last time I went to Tenebrae was with my dad when we lived in Illinois when I was… eight? So I’m going to go this year. I remember going to Tenebrae because it was terrifying. Into it.
Maundy Thursday: Cardinal Wuerl does the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass, so I am planning to go to that and then out for dinner with the other parish young adults, who are all great.
Good Friday: I think I am going to take Good Friday off from work, partially because I might be going to Chicago that day, but also because I feel kind of weird about working on Good Friday. My parish has an 11am reflection with music from the Schola (when did I get so into chanting? I think this album of Senegalese monks chanting in French is probably it, no joke. There are tons more, too.) led by a Jesuit priest, and then the traditional Good Friday liturgy with the Cardinal. My hope is to go to both and then jump town on an afternoon flight.
If I don’t jump town, I think I will try to go to the Easter Vigil with the Cardinal as well, because it would be such a treat to go to three services with him in a week, but I would also be happy to go to Easter Morning Mass with my parents, goddaughter, and more family in Chicago. Either way, I absolutely refuse to eat any spiral ham. No one can make me.
My final note is that my orchid has lost almost all of its blooms BUT has a new stalk sprouting up! Orchid experts, should I wait until it’s tall and then clip it to the support that the other stem has holding it up? Should I trim the other stem when it loses all the blossoms? The orchid internet is too complex for me, please help.
If you’re still reading this, tell me and I will write you a real letter in the mail or give you a prize or something because you’re a rockstar.