My Lenten Insight, available at: ForYourMarriage.org


Happily Even After

My Lenten Insight


April 15, 2010

I know that for the most part people get pretty focused on “making it a good Lent.”  We “give something up” or “lay something down and take something up” or focus on prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  I feel like it’s not uncommon to give it a really good strong start and maybe not always finish the Lenten fast as well as we might have liked.  The thing is, I went INTO this Lent mindful of that and all focused that this was not going to be the case for me. 

Famous last words, right?  Seriously.  In retrospect I came to a really helpful realization about family life and prayer, though. 

I started out pretty strong.  Not as strong as I would have liked on the discernment end of deciding what I was going to “do.”  I ended up giving up chocolate (so hard) and making a point of having one-on-one time with each of our three children each day.  As the days and weeks got started I was doing pretty well.  On the chocolate front I was SOLID for three good weeks.  And while I wasn’t getting time alone with each of the children every day, I quickly realized that some good time with one of them each day, and in good rotation, was really pretty good.  I was happy with that.

Then we took a family trip.  Spring Break came and we were out of town “feasting” over a wedding weekend.  I really don’t know what kind of switch got thrown in my head but after returning I had nothing in the way of conviction for my fast.  Very strange for me.  I am really not used to my will deserting me so entirely.

Joshua and our co-workers in Campus Ministry, being very well-trained lay and clergy, were quick to point out that falling short on my fast only highlights my need for God.  And isn’t that the point of Lent anyway: acknowledging where and when we fall short and relying on God’s grace?  I’m thinking, “Yes, that is the point – and nice theology at that – but I am a failure over here!” 

So, I was NOT in a good place going into Holy Week and REALLY feeling it: just generally down and regretting my short-comings but feeling helpless about the lost time etc…Then on Wednesday I went to confession.  Talk about relying on God’s grace – SO helpful!   My confessor gently asked one or two clarifying questions that really helped me come to this realization about prayer and family life:

With a busy work and home life, I rely VERY heavily on the liturgical calendar to set a rhythm to my personal prayer.  So when I let Lent “get away from me” I felt it very acutely because, for me, it was a lost opportunity.  An opportunity I couldn’t get back.  Life, very busy family life, was going to keep going and Easter was going to happen whether or not  I had my spiritual life “right” or not.

Isn’t it true how little time we have to really focus our prayer and spiritual lives raising young children and balancing dual work schedules?  I’ve come away from this experience with a renewed gratitude for our liturgical life in the Catholic Church.  Hopefully I have also come away with a renewed focus as well.

Reader Comments (1)

  • When I was a young mother, I often wondered if I spent enough time in prayer, service etc. ..and remember lent; one year; turned into a Holy week of bread and water to make of for not keeping my Lenten “fast”. I have since learned from a very reliable source that each morning as you dress your children; your are clothing the naked: each time you fix those school Lunches you are feeding the hungry, each time you give your child the “last bite of that sweet treat, you are fasting. Wiping away child tears and hugging is comforting the mourning….Awesome to know that God looks at our lives differently than we do. God bless you! Keep up the great work, and have a Happy Mother’s Day!

    Patti

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Abortion’s “Selma” Moment

Abortion’s “Selma” Moment

With recent revelations from Planned Parenthood about the gruesome realities of the abortion business, I believe the pro-life movement has hit its “Selma” moment, and I wanted to involve our teenage son, Oscar, in activism on this issue.

On March 7, 1965, 600 activists were beaten on their march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to protest the denial of voting rights to black people. Images of the pogrom were broadcast on television and reported widely in the media. The images brought to naked light the racist violence that had been consistently and systematically used to oppress black people in the south.

When the rest of America saw what was happening, they could no longer ignore this racist violence, or assume it was part of an intractable problem that wasn’t their business. One week later, President Lyndon Johnson convened a special joint session of Congress and called on legislators to introduce and pass the Voting Rights Act.

This week, I watched the recent undercover exposé videos that showed conversations with doctors from the world’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood (first this, and then this, and now a very graphic video). In these conversations, the doctors describe how the abortion procedure is altered to preserve organs and body parts from fetuses to be transferred to research companies. The revelations horrified me, and many others, and are functioning as a tipping point in a similar way to the Selma beatings by bringing to naked light the true violence of “safe, legal abortion” in this nation.

In Selma, the suffering of innocent people opened the eyes of Americans everywhere and motivated decent people to step forward to demand the end of an unjust and dehumanizing system. Though abortion and “human tissue research” has been going on for years, these recent revelations have forced me to take a long, hard look at what is really at stake in the abortion issue.

True, abortion is legal in this country, and technically, research on “fetal tissue” resulting from abortions is allowable, but the fact that Planned Parenthood both offers abortions and evidently alters that procedure in order to better procure research “material” is a clear conflict of interest. It betrays their promise to serve women.

What is more, the situation presents inescapable logic that human life is destroyed in an abortion. Planned Parenthood is in the business of providing to researchers fetal organs such as hearts, lungs, and livers precisely because they are body parts from human beings—that is why they have value. And, evidently, Planned Parenthood is willing to find “less crunchy” ways to extract these body parts in their abortion procedures. They report an ability to move the baby around in the womb so that the body gets delivered first, which allows doctors to harvest the head in tact without crushing it and applying suction to remove the brain (as would normally happen in an abortion procedure). The most recent video showed medical assistants dissecting parts of a body from an abortion; they recognized the gender of the body and could not help remarking in macabre irony, “Another boy!”

That turning feeling in your stomach? It is moral revulsion. I feel it, too, and I am outraged.

U.S. taxpayers provide Planned Parenthood with $540 million every year, which implicates me directly with this system. I decided that it is time for me to more forcefully and publicly declare my opposition to it. I refuse to be associated with this atrocity. This situation has moved me from being a concerned and motivated voter to an activist.

I immediately wrote my senator and asked him to support the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (S. 1553) currently in front of Congress, but felt motivated to respond in other ways. In 50 years, when my grandchildren look back at the early years of this century and wonder how abortion was ever tolerated, I want them to know that I was a decent person.

So, I joined the local #WomenBetrayed rally on July 28 (it was one of more than 60 nation-wide), and I invited Oscar to participate. At 14, he will be a freshman in high school this fall, and I thought this was a good opportunity to expose him to active citizenship and public ethical discourse, and to prompt him to begin making his own moral judgments.

I shared with him the videos in question, as well as some commentary (including the response from Planned Parenthood’s president). I invited him to think about the situation and how he might respond, if at all. Then we started having a conversation.

He explained that he didn’t think that protests did much good because they only voiced positions that are already known—they rarely gather enough participants to effect change.

I suggested that he could channel his response in another way—through advocacy or volunteering at our local women’s pregnancy center. I also explained my own reasoning for publicly protesting in this issue. I said that I am of course invested in changing the system, but my participation in the demonstration also has to do with the value of the protest itself as an act of witness and identity. I told him that I wanted to be counted among those who stood for what is right, who opposed the obvious evil in our midst.

I gave him more time to think about it, and told him he was welcome to join me, that I’d like to have him come, but he should make his own decision.

And without prodding or pressure, he did—he decided to accompany me on the protest. So, we dressed up—if we were taking a public stand, we wanted to be taken seriously—and we prepared statements to explain ourselves in case anyone asked us why we were participating.

His statement actually deepened my own activism—he said that he opposed Planned Parenthood because they were desecrating the bodies of the deceased. In effect, our witness is a work of mercy: to bury the dead. I had never considered the abortion issue in this light before.

I was proud of him, and I was proud to stand for life with him. Together, we will stand on the right side of history.


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