I have known Cassie since I was 17. We traveled Asia together, we roomed together, we double dated together. We married and went our separate ways and moved far from one another but every time we see each other it’s as if only a day has passed. We can still sit down with mugs of coffee and talk for hours. I asked this dear friend of mine to share a bit of her Lenten journey with you and she has poured her heart out in words for our encouragement.
I park my car in the light of February’s cold winter moon not fully understanding how my faith journey has led me to the doorstep of St. Thomas Moore Catholic Church. Something deep down inside of me stirs as I walk across the parking lot to the church. I open the doors of this well-used church and walk in. I am surrounded by the faithful; answering the call to begin this season of Lent with a quietness of spirit, a reflection of sin, and call to prayer. I recall going to Ash Wednesday Mass as a child, but never then felt the weight of my sins as the priest covered my forehead with ashes. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Repent and believe in the Gospel“ I hear him say. I hear the Lord say it too, deep down inside.
Here in the liturgy of this ancient Catholic faith, not knowing fully if I belong, I recall my sins. My vanity, the envy I harbor towards my neighbor, my reluctance to lay down my life for my husband and three small children, and my vicious pride. I look up and see a crucifix. The bloody agony, the turning of the Father’s face, the fullness of sins, the sorrow and confusion. I am confronted with the seriousness of my sin. I do not linger there, for I also see the fullness of grace. The forgiveness of sins. The Good News of the Gospel. My Jesus. I know the resurrection is coming. Can you feel it?
I have been a Christian for many years now. My earliest years, and perhaps the most important years, were spent living on a Jesuit mission far away on a rural Indian reservation. It was there I was first introduced to Christ by my parents and a Jesuit brother we lovingly called Brother Jerry. This great saint of a man modeled for me the joyful call to love and serve. My teenage years brought challenges and much suffering in the form of a devastating eating disorder, but also brought a Protestant minister who led me to a deeply personal relationship with Christ. Now I find myself in the throes of motherhood. It is in these trenches of dishes, diapers, home school, and service that I am rediscovering the healing purpose of this pilgrimage called Lent. I am attempting to carve out a space in my often overwhelming life to prepare again for the coming resurrection of Christ.
As Pope Benedict XLI said so beautifully:
“The purpose of Lent is to keep alive in our consciousness and our life the fact that being a Christian can only take the form of becoming a Christian ever anew; that it is not an event now over and done with but a process requiring constant practice.”
I pray for you too on your Lenten journey. This practicing of the Christian faith. That you may find Christ in a new way in this season. That you may feel him gazing upon you, calling you to a deeper conversion. I pray that you will find strength, meaning and hope in the struggles of life here on earth as we wait for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Photos by Cassie