Lent and Holy Week Debriefing

Is it really over?

I mean: HAPPY EASTER!

I get so swept up in Lent, and especially in Holy week that I often have trouble remembering that the rest of the world continues as usual. It just comes as a bit of a shock to me that regular life keeps on going and people keep expecting other things from me, like non-church related things. I can usually shake off the shock pretty quickly when someone sends me an email asking me to do a job at school or something like it, but I always think it’s funny that these things catch me by surprise every single year.

You see, Lent is more busy for us than the Christmas season. Advent and Christmas are busy, but they don’t hold a candle to Lent, especially Holy Week.

My husband sings a lot of extra masses and liturgies, so he is gone a few more evenings a week (which means I handle bedtime, the second hardest hour of the day, second only to getting the kids ready for school.) I am involved in our parish’s RCIA program (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) and our really big deal – the Easter Vigil – is on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter.

I love what we do, and I am glad we are both able to participate in the life of the church at this time, but BOY can it get complicated! Generally I have an emotional meltdown on Good Friday. This year it happened on Monday of Holy Week, brought about by a nasty surprise on our taxes, but that is another topic for another day. It was enough of a melt down to just kind of sap my energy for the entire week. So I just took the rest of the week as slowly as I possibly could when we weren’t running around like crazy.

The week went something like this:
Monday – Jay sang at the Chrism Mass
Tuesday – I had a long rehearsal for the Easter Vigil with the RCIA and other groups receiving their sacraments.
Wednesday – Jay had an extra long rehearsal with choir
Thursday – Jay sang at the Holy Thursday Mass, here is where I just really decided to take this Holy Week slowly. I stayed home with the kids. I missed going, but I knew if I went it would really stress me out and I’d end up being really hard on the kids.
Friday – Jay was off from his regular job, so he came to the Stations of the Cross with us at lunchtime. Then we went home and he went back to the church to sing at the Good Friday Liturgy. In the evening we watched the last part of Jesus of Nazareth with the kids. (Fun part: When the Centurion said the words, “I am not worthy to receive you under my roof…” Lily, age 6, turned to us in astonishment and said, “We say that! In Mass!” It was really cute.)
Saturday  – I had a retreat most of the day and then helped set up for the reception hall for after Mass, then I was home for a couple hours, got ready and then Jay and I went back to the church. He set up for the outdoor sunrise Mass, and I helped get the RCIA and other groups ready for Mass. Taking attendance, lining people up, making sure all their sponsors were there… Then the Easter Vigil began at 8pm, and wasn’t over until 11! My jobs during the Vigil are mainly moving people for Baptism and Confirmation. It’s not hard, but it made even a 3 hour mass go quickly! Jay left pretty quickly after Mass was done and I worked the reception. I really and truly loved every minute of it.
Sunday – Jay sang six more Masses while I got the kids ready and out the door for our usual Mass time. We had a couple hours of family time in between the busyness.

By Monday after Easter, we were both just so tired and stretched. So I have to say that I have taken this week pretty slowly so far as well.

I didn’t do very well with my Lent – not in the way I planned anyway. In my disappointment for not doing some of the special “spiritual” things I had planned, especially for my family, I really struggled with a sense of failure. But amid the craziness of Holy Week, God sat me down and had a little heart to heart with me. I wasn’t failing in the manner I thought I was, but my attitude was really stinky, and I was very over attached to it. As a matter of fact, He is showing me over attachment in quite a few things right now. My attitude has become a bit like a gremlin, and I’ve been feeding it after midnight. I’m not going to make any crazy promises on how I am changing, but I think changes are in the works for me interiorly. I can see how the foundation has been laid down over the past few months, and now the real building has to begin.

Because of all this, as my Easter Season began, it felt a lot more like New Years. A new beginning, a new rising.

Halleluia! He is risen! And someday we will rise with Him too.

I thought this picture was especially fitting for my Lent and Easter:

10150805_10152149630168881_835620158635452483_n

Now I can genuinely say, Happy Easter. I hope this Easter Season will bless us in many ways!

 

Feet: A Holy Week Post

Originally posted 5/24/11

014

Little feet have brought me closer to God in many ways, chasing them around gives me patience and reminds me of the joy to be found even on the most stressful of days.  There are a couple ways though, that snuck up on me, and I thought I would share those with you.

Holy Week always finds me stressed and overwhelmed.  While I would like to participate in the many wonders and liturgies, having several very small children (and a husband in the choir) makes it nearly impossible to do without teaching my children by accident that Holy Week is more about getting yelled at than about appreciating the sacrifice of Jesus.  So we choose carefully which liturgies to attend.

~~~~~

Good Friday of 2010 found me at my wits end, as usual.  We had attended the live Stations of the Cross with the kids, and had intended to take them to the Good Friday liturgy as well.  But I felt like the small children needed a break and so did I.  It would have been a disaster in the making to try another long event in the same day.  So we stayed home.  At least our parish had their liturgy on television, so I was able to watch, holding my peacefully sleeping baby on the couch, while the other little ones played legos in the other room.

As the parishioners filed up, one by one, to venerate the cross and kiss the feet of Jesus, I looked down at the chubby little feet, so relaxed in my lap.  And I realized…  Mary must have kissed the feet of Jesus countless times.  She nibbled on his cute little toes as she cared for him.  And then she saw those feet lifted up before her on the cross.  She knew, she saw the physical effects of His sacrifice.  The body she had held so close was hurting.  I am sure that no one understands the veneration of the Cross like she does.

~~~~~

This year we were able to make it to Holy Thursday Mass.  I even came prepared with battery operated candles for the little ones to carry during the procession afterward.  (Although I also discovered just how far those battery operated candles can roll when dropped/thrown.  Next year I need to find square battery operated candles.)  I have to confess that I am a horrible listener in Mass, and only partly because of my kids.  I am just a distracted kind of person, so I always catch snippets here and there.  The part of the gospel that echoed out to me sitting in this particular wiggly, whiny pew was:

If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. (Jn 13:14-15)

And I tell you, I sat bolt upright and realized… I do this!

On a week when I had been feeling like there was no time for prayer and my going to mass was overwhelming, I was so relieved to realize that every day I do something that Jesus specifically asked us to do.  There is not a day that goes by when I don’t find myself down on my knees washing little feet at some point in the day.  (And I had to stop writing this post twice to wipe a little behind as well, that has to count for something.)

Jesus asked us to serve one another, and to meet each other at our grossest and help to clean each other up.  That sums up my job pretty well, I think.  Maybe I am learning something out of these trips around Jericho.

Lent, We Meet Again.

023

I generally am terrible at Lent. But then I am pretty bad at Easter too. I just don’t seem to deal well with out of the ordinary things. They catch me off guard and shake me out of my comfortable pattern and then I don’t quite know how to cope any more. But I think that is the point. I could very easily slide through life on an easy path of normal days – everything all the same – and be half asleep all through it. Instead I have to be shaken awake by the screaming alarm clock of an imminent liturgical season.

It messes with my dinner plans.

And no matter how much I drill myself that it is coming up, I am always caught off guard that it is really here. Ugh! I’m supposed to be an example to my children about all of this too! The pressure!

As a church musician, my husband has a lot of extra events through Lent and Easter, and that complicates things. Bedtime these days is not simple task for our four youngest. I joke that I give up my husband for Lent, but it is kind of true.

I mean, I love that he can do these things. He has such an incredible gift in his voice. It is just hard, to be alone more than usual. Alone in a chaos-on-a-playground sort of way.

I didn’t start this post to complain about Lent. Well, maybe I did, but I’d rather not keep heading that direction. So.

Last year we did a new thing in Lent. We used this devotional by Ann Voskamp. (Scroll all the way to the bottom of her post for the download.) It worked very well for us. We made a little Lenten Tree for our table centerpiece (see photo above) and even lit candles – one for Ash Wednesday, and then one for each Sunday of Lent. We had to have candles… otherwise what would the kids fight over after dinner? There are only 14 entries in this devotional, which meant that we had some hope of finishing it, although I think we only got to 12. There is a small reproduction of a real art painting to go along with each Bible reading. I cut those out and laminated them and we hung them on our Lenten tree. The kids tolerated the readings well, but the real test was when they saw me assemble the centerpiece (ACK! I still have to go to Michaels one more time!) they remembered what we did and started talking about how they liked Lent.

Seriously! The kids with the mother who tries to find a way to NOT go to Ash Wednesday Mass (It’s not a Holy Day of Obligation!) are starting to like Lent. And that is something.

I do plan to go to Ash Wednesday Mass this year. My kids aren’t in a Catholic school anymore, so I figured it really is important for them to go. It will help them (and me) to really grasp the beginning of the season. My older ones seem to like to get to school and be one of the few who have the forehead smudge. Plus it gets them out of class for a bit. Win/win!

The bottom line is – Lent is here, whether I am ready or not. I guess that is how most things happen. So let’s do this!

My Lenten Goals/Sacrifices/Resolutions:
1. Lead a more hands free life. Friends, I have a problem and it’s my phone. When I am overwhelmed and stressed, I hide in it. There are lots of pretty colors and challenging games that trick me into thinking I have accomplished something, when in reality I have only sat and stared at a tiny box. I haven’t fully defined how I am going to live this one out. I know I need to start by deleting my games. (Which makes me think, “No, I’ll just hide them so I don’t lose all those points I have saved up!”) Delete. Delete. Delete. No more phone games for me.

2. Dinnertime Devotions – We’ll do the same one as last year that I described above. Maybe we’ll make it to 13 this year.

3. Focus on the Grocery Budget, which is a little excessive out of control. My ultimate goal here is to come in under budget and add that money to our giving. I cut my coupons this week.

4. Adoration at least 3 times during Lent. It’s just hard for me to get a babysitter during the day. And then it is hard for me to go and sit still.

For our family:
1. Get everyone to confession at the start and end of Lent. This just needs to happen!

2. Memorize Psalm 23. I had to memorize this for Sunday school when I was in second grade. I was recently reading it and realized that learning this Psalm helped to build my image of God in a very positive way. I hope that it does the same for our kids.

There is my Lent so far. I’m sure I’ll have more to whine about say later on in the season. (Like, for example, I have lost my go-to cheap penitential meal of fish sticks and mac and cheese due to a gluten intolerant child. Now what?)

What are you doing for Lent this year?

Feet: A Belated Holy Week Post

Little feet have brought me closer to God in many ways, chasing them around gives me patience and reminds me of the joy to be found even on the most stressful of days.  There are a couple ways though, that snuck up on me, and I thought I would share those with you. I realize that Holy Week is long past now, but I hope they will lift you up anyway.

Holy Week always finds me stressed and overwhelmed.  While I would like to participate in the many wonders and liturgies, having several very small children (and a husband in the choir) makes it nearly impossible to do without teaching my children by accident that Holy Week is more about getting yelled at than about appreciating the sacrifice of Jesus.  So we choose carefully which liturgies to attend.

~~~~~

Good Friday of 2010 found me at my wits end, as usual.  We had attended the live Stations of the Cross with the kids, and had intended to take them to the Good Friday liturgy as well.  But I felt like the small children needed a break and so did I.  It would have been a disaster in the making to try another long event in the same day.  So we stayed home.  At least our parish had their liturgy on television, so I was able to watch, holding my peacefully sleeping baby on the couch, while the other little ones played legos in the other room.

As the parishioners filed up, one by one, to venerate the cross and kiss the feet of Jesus, I looked down at the chubby little feet, so relaxed in my lap.  And I realized…  Mary must have kissed the feet of Jesus countless times.  She nibbled on his cute little toes as she cared for him.  And then she saw those feet lifted up before her on the cross.  She knew, she saw the physical effects of His sacrifice.  The body she had held so close was hurting.  I am sure that no one understands the veneration of the Cross like she does.

~~~~~

This year we were able to make it to Holy Thursday Mass.  I even came prepared with battery operated candles for the little ones to carry during the procession afterward.  (Although I also discovered just how far those battery operated candles can roll when dropped/thrown.  Next year I need to find square battery operated candles.)  I have to confess that I am a horrible listener in Mass, and only partly because of my kids.  I am just a distracted kind of person, so I always catch snippets here and there.  The part of the gospel that echoed out to me sitting in this particular wiggly, whiny pew was:

If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. (Jn 13:14-15)

And I tell you, I sat bolt upright and realized… I do this!

On a week when I had been feeling like there was no time for prayer and my going to mass was overwhelming, I was so relieved to realize that every day I do something that Jesus specifically asked us to do.  There is not a day that goes by when I don’t find myself down on my knees washing little feet at some point in the day.  (And I had to stop writing this post twice to wipe a little behind as well, that has to count for something.)

Jesus asked us to serve one another, and to meet each other at our grossest and help to clean each other up.  That sums up my job pretty well, I think.  Maybe I am learning something out of these trips around Jericho.