Can a mother observe Lent?

>> Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In some moments, I think moms have the most difficulty observing Lent; at other times, I think they have the least difficulty of anyone.

My ideal Lent is 40 days of fasting and prayer, actually reading the books I'd like to read to prepare for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, and a great deal of silent solitude.

But I'm a mom with 7 children. Small people need a lot of fuel and won't eat small and simple meals; they also need snacks. My time is not my own, so I cannot devote the hours I'd like to quiet recollection. There is no silence here except between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. and I'm usually sleeping through it, gratefully. In this way, it seems I have some difficulty observing Lent in the way I'd like, but that's just the point. My ideal Lent is not ideal, because it is not God's Plan for me. "My ideal Lent" is just that: MINE. It would be for me, not Him.

His Plan includes 7 children (2 teenagers), a husband who works from home, a barking dog, deadlines and unfinished business. His Plan is perfect. It doesn't look like my Plan, and that is just what I need to work on this Lent: changing my own mind and will to match HIS. I need to give up my own ideas and try to see what His are.

So even though I cannot reduce much of the noise around here, I can learn to enter into that inner silence where He dwells. Even though I cannot live on lentils and rice for 40 days, I can learn to be more grateful for the food He allows me to put on the table; grateful for all the dirty dishes, as they are signs that I have a full and healthy household to eat what He gives us; and I can mortify my own appetite in little and hidden ways. Even though I cannot carve out more time to pray, I can remember that everything I do, I do before His Face. His wounded, suffering Face. I can be more conscious that everything I do, I do for love of Him who died for love of me.

I can be more attentive to each little need before me. So often, the exigencies of the day come at me at such speed, and I am so busy multi-tasking, that I can only be reactive; at least I can try during Lent to respond to each person fully. Let each person who interrupts what I think is important be like Christ asking for my attention, then it will be easier to respond properly.

I can also focus on ways the entire family can move closer to the wounded Heart of Christ during this season of preparation. We pause at 3 pm to thank Jesus for dying on the cross for us, or to sing Adoramus Te. We are making a greater effort to pray the Rosary together in the evening. On Fridays, we all attend the children's Way of the Cross at our parish; then we spend some time in church while we wait for the evening Fish Fry - Mom tries to pray. We have limited media (or "screen time") and shut down the music. We are discussing the Gospel readings and how they lead us to Holy Week.

As a homeschooling mother, I am in a perfect position to find ways to let Lent permeate our days and weeks in little ways that have a cumulative impact, and that help children feel that we have entered into something special; this is not Ordinary Time. We are preparing for Something.

All of this takes mental and physical effort on my part, and that is part of my Lenten offering as well. I would prefer to find some silence somewhere and look on Christ there; God's will for me is to remain where I am and find Christ here in these circumstances, and serve Him in these people. No pious escape.

Can a mother observe Lent? With all her heart.


neuropoet3 8:34 PM  

Beautiful - and very timely for me at the moment - thank you...

KathrynTherese 2:05 PM  

I'm glad you found some good in it, Jenny. We are all struggling to "find time for God" in our day - and quiet prayer is necessary, if difficult to carve out!

TeamDay 2:37 PM  

I love this reflection. I needed to hear it today. thank you!

4littlefeet 8:54 PM  

I am a mom with three little kids (one infant) and I really appreciate your outlook on Lent. True, it cannot be as I would "plan" I think it can be better. Great ideas!

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