Ash Wednesday 2014

For as much as I blog, I have always been really bad about keeping a prayer (or otherwise) journal. I’ve been encouraged by my priest, my spiritual director and others to do this, but it’s always been a weak area for me. Perhaps in chronicling these days of Lent here, I will learn to make a daily examen and be more committed to journaling my experiences. I think if I can have an honest look at myself and where I fail and where I am strong as regards my relationship with Christ, I will be better able to see where I need to make changes.

One of my biggest downfalls so far? I don’t have a plan (not for Lent, but in general). I kind of do things ad hoc and by whim and there’s no consistency. I will start with these daily entries. Perhaps I won’t be able to pray at a consistent time… YET … but I have hope that I can grow. Baby steps, right?

I started the morning praying the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer as I was driving to church. There was a lot of traffic. It frustrated me. So I was continually periodically thinking uncharitable thoughts about the other drivers around me and about the situation in general. And immediately, I’d recognize my lack of charity and apologize to God. Rinse. Repeat. Not a very glamorous start to Lent, but an honest one. I arrived at church a little late — just as the homily was beginning. The church was packed. They had bused the kids over for an All School Mass. The children’s choir sung and it was lovely.

All School Mass, 9am, OLGC

I received my ashes, but not from Fr. Anonymous (because I was late, I was in a back corner by the cry room), which is probably a good thing. 🙂 We have a joke about ashes, that he would put a big L on my forehead instead of a cross, and I’d hear “You’re a loser and you won’t amount to anything,” in the place of “Repent and believe the Gospel”. (For anyone who may be concerned, (a) we’re friends and (b) I don’t think he’d actually do it.) On the other hand, it doesn’t look like I’ve received a cross, either. It more looks like a Rorschach inkblot. Here. What do you think it is?

Ashed!

When I got to work, I received my first ever, “Hey, you have something on your forehead!” comment. 🙂 I’m a little surprised that I haven’t received one before.

I had signed up for several different text/e-mail bots that would send me suggestions for things to do/give up/take on for Lent each day. One of them, 40 Acts, suggested that I start a journal. Ahead of the game! 🙂 They also suggested that I take a picture of said journal and post it on Instagram, etc. Done!

Today's first task is to make a journal for Lent. #40acts

Saints in the Making University also has a Lenten program. They note that if we are sincerely making an effort to become holier this Lent, we should expect some opposition from the Evil One. Therefore, we should keep the prayer to St. Michael on our lips:

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

SIMU also suggests that we read 1 Cor 13:4-8, replacing “Love” with our own name. E.g. Jenn is patient; Jenn is kind… How does saying that passage with you as the subject make you feel? Are you living up to that?

They also have a great suggestion to help us stay on track this Lent:

Say this simple prayer: “Lord, I offer up the sacrifices and sufferings of this day for……” Pick any soul…lost sheep, family, friends, enemies, strangers, souls in purgatory…anybody. When you get busy and distracted just remember, other souls are counting on you. You have the power to help get souls to heaven….don’t waste it. You may offer up your days for whomever you please, however, I strongly encourage you to offer up each day of this challenge for “disengaged Catholics” or “lost sheep”. Let’s bring them home.

I typically request Fr. Anonymous to give me the names of some people to pray for during Lent (this year, just one person). I offer up my Lent for them, and knowing that what I am doing is helping someone else has been a great motivator.

Perhaps I’m just hungry, but as I’m praying my Psalms for the day, this one stood out for me: Psalm 4:8

But you have given my heart more joy than they have when grain and wine abound.

God is everything. Through good times and bad; plentiful and lean. He loves us, He has firm hold of us, and He isn’t letting go.

I’d like to say I ended Ash Wednesday by doing the Liturgy of the Hours or something like that, but what really happened is that I had dinner and went right to bed. I did try to pray, but praying in bed mostly looks like falling asleep.

I’ll leave you with the song that was in my mind today:
Mighty to Save

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