If you’re anything like me, as you look back over the last 2 ½ weeks, there are some Lenten promises you’ve probably kept pretty well. But maybe…just maybe…there are still a few areas that need improvement.
Luckily, we’re not alone. Even the holiest of saints struggled with penance and virtuous living. St. Josemaria Escrivá reminds us: “To defend his purity, St. Francis of Assisi rolled in the snow, St. Benedict threw himself into a thorn bush, St. Bernard plunged into an icy pond…” If they had to take drastic measures to deal with their own weaknesses, we’ve also got to admit that we’re weak too and can easily get tired of doing the things we said we were going to do. But we’ve also got to be courageous, admit our failings and try, try again!
Especially since we believe in a God of second chances. So if you’ve been struck by the wound of messing up your Lenten observance — doing that thing you said you were going to give up — then get to confession, say you’re sorry, and pick up the cross again. St. Agnes has a parish penance service coming up this Thursday, March 23 at 6:30PM. But Fr. Patrick hears confessions after the 6:45AM Mass on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and before Mass on Saturday at 3:15PM. Sacramentally, Jesus not only forgives the sin, but he gives the grace to continue right where we left off. Further, in the grace that Jesus gives post confession, we’ve actually got the Holy Spirit’s help to “level up” in virtue when met with the same temptations to fall away.
Remember, the Lenten journey is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. Think about the Stations of the Cross. It’s an awesome meditation during Lent for several reasons:
- It reminds us of the high times, even in the midst of carrying the cross (remember Jesus meeting and being consoled by his mother, Veronica and the women of Jerusalem and Simon helping to carry the cross).
- But it’s also a reminder of the difficult times and that carrying the cross IS HARD! Jesus fell three times under its weight. He shows us that even the flesh of the Son of God experienced exhaustion and the mind of The Lord knew extreme fatigue.
- But in spite of everything…he kept going – for us.
It’s the same with us! The Lenten journey is meant to be that way so that our weak flesh (and hopefully willing spirit) can learn to be obedient to God and not just to our sin-inclined appetites. So, if you’ve lost your way on the first half of this Lenten journey, stop for a moment….breathe…..and start week 4 with a renewed resolve…committed to finishing the race and meeting our Lord at Easter.