Lent is a great experience of spiritual solidarity for Catholics. We fast together, pray together, and fall in love again with the central beauty of our faith: suffering never has the last word, and always has meaning in light of the cross. The spiritual practice of fasting has the unique capacity to remind us of … Continue reading How to Choose a Lenten Penance
The image I have of my soul during Lent is a dried out sponge, the kind that is hard and mangled, soaking up water until it is fresh and new and soft again. The season is filled with beautiful messages of God’s mercy, images of God’s arms outstretched. We hear God’s voice in the scriptures through the prophet Hosea: “I will lure her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” At mass we sing, “Come back to me with all your heart...long have I waited for your coming home to me and living deeply our new life.”
Amongst the noise and busyness of my life, clarity eludes me. It is only when I make time and space to reunite with Jesus in prayer that the messiness of life can subside enough for me to identify which spirits lead me closer to him.
If I stop to slow down and pay attention, I do hear God's call, right in the middle of the clatter of dishes going back into the cupboards (when my husband puts them away, because, yet again, I was too tired). The mission to love in this vocation is a series of simple choices, and hearing God's call is as easy as taking a moment to breathe in awareness of the purpose in my actions. Each small choice to care for our home and my family is the choice of love. Each time I choose to set aside my own weariness to play with my baby or encourage my husband, in a small way, I mimic Christ's self-sacrifice on the cross. And when I take the time to offer myself as gift to my loved ones, I enjoy the gift of love, of life fully lived. Resurrection dawns in my heart, and the beauty of this vocation outshines its difficulties.
Sometimes we sugarcoat the reality of vocation. We want all the deep joy and the passion with none of the sacrifice. In reality, the vocation we are called to is the role that’s most apt to refine us, to shape us into to the being God envisions us to be. This means our joy and our fulfillment are both tied to sacrifice.
God was offering me a glimpse of what he feels for us when we turn away from him in moments of fear, of shame, of self-loathing. The isolation of sin is self imposed. If only we would turn to God, we would see the face of love. Like the father in the story of the prodigal son, he waits and watches for us to come to home. Our capacity to receive his mercy is contingent only on our own willingness to turn and embrace it.