Thursday, April 03, 2014

Lent: What's Working and What Isn't

What's Working:

With the girls:

Over breakfast, I read reflections, quotes, and prayers from Bringing Lent Home with St. Therese of Lisieux: Prayers, Reflections, and Activities for Families to Betsy and Ramona. This lovely book (part of a series by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle) has also led us to more extended discussions about St. Therese, her Story of a Soul, and the sharing of insights I gained from a recent reading of Patrick Ahern's Three Gifts of St. Therese

I am also (again) using Sarah Reinhard's Welcome Risen Jesus: Lent and Easter Reflections for Families as part of our breakfast reading. The book's cover might lead you to think this one is for very young children, but (while it works on that level) it also works for entire families. Sharing the quick readings from this little book is a great way to bring Scripture into our morning.

I'm enjoying sharing these books daily with Betsy and Ramona, and then including the weekend readings at a family dinner on Sunday -- a nice way to bring Atticus and Anne into what we're doing.

I'm having Betsy read Mark Shea's By What Authority?: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition and for our holy hour, she often turns to Youcat: Youth Prayer Book, which she is liking a lot.

We are also keeping up with Operation Rice Bowl, trying recipes, and making donations based on their calendar, stories, and ideas.

For me: My Lenten Reading 

Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe: So far, this is ranking with one of my favorite spiritual classics, Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, which I return to again and again. Both books put forth a very simple truth: God is all.

For Atticus and me: fasting from foods: 

Giving up meat is surprisingly easy. Not surprisingly, I guess, when one considers that we didn't eat much red meat anyway but we do eat a lot of chicken. That's been quite easy to cut out or work around. My daughters are carnivores, though, and they still want hunks of flesh on the table, so I sometimes have to make different versions of our meals, or just add meat on the side of a dish for them to dig into.

But because it has felt so easy for us, Atticus and I decided to add another penance, so this falls more under the "tweaking" category than the "not working" category.

What Isn't Working: 

This is more of a sad realization, one I've known for the last couple of years, but hate to admit:

It's time for me to admit that Ramona isn't little anymore. Oh, sure, she insisted that we make the Lamb of God calendar again this year, the lamb that I've been making for, oh, a million years. (And I was really happy that she insisted.) She said it wouldn't be Lent without it. And sure, she insisted that it also wouldn't be Lent without the sacrifice jar, so we've got one of those out, too. But in the reality of day-to-day, those are activities that appeal to the very young child, the one who needs to see the days ticked off, and watch the pile of beans that will become sweet candy growing. Ramona (and the rest of us) forget about the calendar and the sacrifice jar.

And so the lamb, the jar of beans ... they are visible signs to me, Lenten signs, that everything changes and things fall away. Lent is a time in which I always realize (for the millionths time) that we  keep trudging on through life trying to hold on to the best of what we've found, and God keeps wrenching things away from us, teaching us -- through little things like cotton ball lambs and kidney beans -- how to let go, and how to love Him more.

So, really, I guess this stuff that's outwardly "no longer working" this Lent is working. Message received.

But we'll always make our Lamb of God calendar. It just wouldn't be Lent without it.


Anonymous said...

I remember when you started this blog and Ramona was so little!

tanita✿davis said...

Aww. It's true the celebration of various things changes as kids get older -- but at least you have the assurance that the tradition remains tradition because it's fun and meaningful, not because it's necessary. It remains as a tiny reminder of the past, and a nudge if anyone needs to get back on track.

Karen Edmisten said...

Lovely, Tanita. Yes, a tiny reminder and a nudge. I love that.