Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Love Lent!

Perhaps it's because I'm a convert to the Catholic faith, or perhaps it's because I'm a very goal-oriented sort of person, but I LOVE the season of Lent.

That may come as a shock to cradle Catholics who grew up experiencing Lent as a time to suffer and do penance without thought for Easter which is the joyful culmination of our season of penance.

I love the color purple--more than the green and red of Christmas. It is a rich, vibrant color that symbolizes the royalty and kingship of Christ as well as penance.

Don't get me wrong--I don't like fasting or doing without. But I love the time of living simply and just getting by with what we really need and trying to avoid little luxuries like wine with dinner and chocolate for dessert. I love making simple suppers of soup and bread, beans and rice, pastas and salads during Lent.

I love Ash Wednesday with its emphasis on the equality of all mankind: "Remember you are dust and to dust you will return." Kings and paupers, vice presidents and homeschooling mamas...we're all dust; we're all the same.

I love praying the Stations of the Cross on Fridays with the family after the parish fish fry.
I love seeing smiling children waving palms on Palm Sunday and remembering the ashes we wore not six weeks prior that were made from the previous years' palms. I love making the palms into crosses and having them tucked into prayer books and holy pictures to remind us of the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem.
I love the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday. I love re-living what Jesus did on the first Holy Thursday when he washed the feet of his disciples.

I love it when the entire congregation processes in silence from the sanctuary to the place of repose for the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Thursday.

I love it when we enter the sanctuary on Good Friday and there is no Jesus: some of us awkwardly genuflect anyway, others bow to the barren altar; all of us inwardly ask the question the women at his burial tomb asked the Roman guards: "Where have they taken my Lord?"

I love it when the priest brings in the crucifix on Good Friday and chants: "Behold, the wood of the cross!" I love it when everyone, old and young, fit and infirm, black and white, venerates the cross.

I love climbing the hill at Mother Cabrini Shrine on Good Friday, praying the fourteen stations and trying to imagine the immense love that our Savior had for us that caused him to carry that cross up Calvary and be nailed to it--all for our sakes and for redemption of our souls.

I love the Easter Vigil with its candles and bonfires, and seeing the catechumens in their white garments entering into the fullness of the Church.

I also love Lent because I'm really lousy at buying presents and sending Christmas cards. In fact, my Christmas cards, complete with family Christmas photo, Christmas stamps and Christmas letters are still sitting in separate piles in my house. Somehow I never got around to actually addressing the envelopes. Maybe they'll become Easter cards.

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