Wednesday, 03 April 2019 16:51

Here's Your Lent

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Years ago there was a family-friendly comedian who became well known for his punch line, “Here’s your sign”.  He would talk about how as humans we often say things that point to the obvious and in the end sound silly.  A simple example - you see a person walking up with fishing poles and a line of fish and you ask, “Did you go fishing today?”  You ask a question that all the observable facts point to as obvious.  These phrases can make us sound not so smart, and so this comedian made it part of his act that it would be appropriate to give people a “stupid sign” who make such comments - thus the phrase, “Here’s your sign”.  Although a little brute sounding, he made his point well.

 

This comedian’s phrase has been brought to my mind in the first weeks and days of my Lenten journey, as absurd as it may sound.  But God often appeals to my humanity in humor, and so, I’ll take it!  

I’ve been a Catholic now for over 14 years and each year, a few days or weeks before Ash Wednesday, I start taking inventory, praying, musing over what my Lenten fast and observances need to look like in the weeks to come.  Almost always by Ash Wednesday I have it “figured out” and proceed to tell God and others what my list of commitments looks like.  Something funny, and I would say, providential, has been happening to me this year, however.  Every day since this Lent has begun God has put something in my day that gives me an opportunity to live out my Lent in a way I wasn’t planning on.  

Let me give a few examples.  The day after Ash Wednesday I found myself in the dentist chair for almost 4 hours.  Most would agree the dentist chair is not a comfortable place to be and so it can be imagined that being there for 4 hours allowed me some very uncomfortable moments to offer up for particular intentions (not to mention that in the days that followed I had a hard time eating comfortably….another opportunity to participate in a small way in the sufferings of Christ). God spoke in that still, small voice He often uses, for me to use these discomforts for the benefit of others and to offer them up, especially for those who do not believe in Our Lord.  Fast forward to another moment of opportunity.  It was the first Sunday of Lent and as my husband was to soon take an extended work trip and be gone for some time, we decided to spend some family time together in a fun way - an afternoon trip to the beach to play some football, to look for seashells, and just to relax.  We decided that instead of packing a lunch we would splurge a little, leave more quickly, and grab take-out to eat.  We got our beach gear situated and our blanket out to eat on.  As I passed out food to everyone, I soon realized that the restaurant had forgotten my food….the Holy Spirit quickly whispered to me, “Here’s your Lent”!  It was another chance to offer up something small, to practice self-denial, and hopefully grow closer to Christ.  Since that Sunday there have been many other “Here’s your Lent” moments…physical pains and sufferings that have been out of the ordinary, people with hurts and needs put in my path in the middle of my daily to do list, as well as some substantial situations in which I have had the chance to practice patience.  

In all of this, for some beautiful reason, God has given me the grace to recognize that while the list of Lenten sacrifices and observances I made myself is good and pleasing to Him, I need to take what He gives me too, to welcome it, and to use it all for His glory.  After all, Jesus himself said, “Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish?  If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:9-11).  He gives me exactly what I need when I ask Him to.  It is not for me to decide what He gives me but to accept what He gives.  And if every day this Lenten season He ever so gently puts an opportunity in front of me that says,“Here’s your Lent”, I will gladly take it and welcome it.  I pray He gives you and me both the strength to accept each challenging moment as an opportunity to use to love Him better and to give to Him all the glory he deserves!

Monica MartinezMonica is a married mother of 6 in Florida who is an enthusiastic convert to the Catholic Church and a lay member of the Home of the Mother. For many years she was a teacher and counselor in the public school system but now she labors with love in her home teaching and counseling the hearts of her own children.