I was all ready to get into the reflection, the peacefulness, the meditation of Lent a month ago. Then I remembered and found that the desert life is weary, hazardous, and difficult. I haven't kept to my Lenten promises as I should. I haven't taken advantage of the discipline that Lent provides. So I am grateful for the rose reminder given to me last Sunday.
My parish is having our Lenten penance service tomorrow, and I plan on taking full advantage of that. Hopefully, between the check-in of Laetare Sunday and the grace of penance, I will be back on track for Lent.
And just like I was so ready to start Lent, I am sooooooooo unbelievably ready for Easter! Well, mostly just my Spring Break. The kids are getting antsy, the weather is getting warmer, and I totally have the travel bug. This teacher needs a break! But we can't get to Easter without the Cross, so that's kind of where we are at right now, for better and for worse.
Speaking of the Cross, as I continue to read Richard Rohr's "Eager to Love" (the book some of my friends and I have chosen to read together this Lent), I have re-discovered the ways in which we look at the Cross as Catholics. Rohr discusses that the Cross is a negative thing that the saints view as positive, and we all do really. Because of the Cross, we have new life and redemption. Regardless of your beliefs, I think we can all agree that suffering is a part of life. And it can bring negativity or it can be an opportunity for new life. Sometimes both. The Cross is this reminder for us.
But somewhere down the line, the Cross somehow got to be a way for some of us to wallow in our own suffering or wear it as a badge of "look at me. I am suffering. What a good Christian I am." Rohr discusses that the saints did not use the self denial that the Cross provides for their own egos. They embraced the negativity of the Cross and flipped it. They embraced it for love- love of self, love of neighbor, and love of God. Just like Jesus did.
This is not an entirely new realization. Like I said, we all can understand the idea behind the Cross, I think; suffering that brings new life. Death to the self that allows for love of others. Jesus displays all of this on Good Friday. But much like the wake up call of Lent and Laetare Sunday, this passage in "Eager to Love" made me check myself as well. Am I embracing the cross? And if so, am I doing so out of love? Or bitterly for the sake of myself or ego?
Rohr also describes how St. Francis of Assisi focused his work and ministry on "human suffering, not human sinfulness." I was so struck by that phrase and how if we applied it today, it would solve so many things. If only we just addressed human suffering directly- helping the poor person we see- instead of questioning: "are they a good person worthy of my help?", we would not only be following Jesus' example, but we would probably solve a lot of the problems in our society and world right now.
So that's my quick Lenten check-in. I'm sure that when I write again we will be in the midst of the drama of Triduum or the joy of Easter. Either way, I hope that we all continue to keep on this journey that Lent reminds of to the best of our abilities.