Yesterday’s Ash Wednesday Liturgy at Presentation High School was a beautiful thing. Eight hundred young women in formal dress uniform exuberantly singing an old Protestant hymn, Amazing Grace. The gym was filled to capacity- standing room only. The homily was delivered by a woman- our own resident bible scholar, Claire Foley. Peer ministers doused their fellow students with ashes. A slide show highlighted one of our Sisters of Presentation, Sr. Rachel Pinal, who works as a missionary in Somotillo, Nicaragua. The liturgy kicked off our Mission Drive month, raising money to support our Sisters of Presentation working for peace and justice in South America.
No wonder Pope Benedict is resigning. This old church ain’t what it used to be!
However, in the faculty room over lunch one would never have known that we have progressed this far as Catholics. People were still talking about “giving something up” for Lent. I assumed we were a more enlightened and progressive Catholic faculty. Is it really that simple?
During Lent, the forty days and forty nights culminating in the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday, we are called to conversion, reconciliation, mercy, grace, self reflection and humility. How do you get there by giving up candy?
I’m just sayin’….
But the most amusing thing for me as the Senior Class Counselor was one of my naughtiest students carefully tracing a cross of ashes on my forehead and advising me to “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel”.
My life is plaid.
Lent officially ends tonight and I never really decided on what I was doing or not doing to observe the 40 days and 40 nights. I guess I wanted to keep my options open! So here we are at the solemn end and what do I have to show for it?
In hindsight I realize that I did get into a habit of praying. I often feel like such a flake when I tell someone that I will pray for them and then it dissolves into the thin air of my best intentions. So during Lent I kept a prayer list by my computer.
And I prayed in the morning when I got to work.
And I prayed in Savasana after hot yoga.
And I prayed when I was falling asleep at night.
As I prayed I put a line through the answered prayer… (like I do with my “to do” list).
Well Barbara who was suffering from cancer went to meet her maker in heaven. Jen is pregnant. Claire and her husband are in the process of adopting a baby. Mounir got a job. My friend Nancy’s husband got in to a special program at OHSU for his cancer treatments. And my cousin Anna Marie looks beautiful in her facebook pictures even though I know she is in the midst of fighting breast cancer. Prayer works!
But we’re not done yet God! There is one more thing on my list!
I have tried every angle with my supplication. I’ve consulted with my mother in heaven and asked her to go see what’s holding up the works. I’ve held a painful pose in yoga and “offered it up” for a special intention. It seems only fair that if I can hold standing bow pose for one full minute on a fake hip that God can grant this one wish! I’ve worn this little cross as a good luck charm, rubbing it every few minutes to remind heaven that I haven’t given up the fight yet. Today I posted my prayer request on www.prayerrequest.com! (you can google anything you know..) Lastly I’ve told the whole world with this blog that I’m on my last nerve.
Lord have mercy! Just one last thing…
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and this one would certainly qualify. I remember this moment as though it happened yesterday. This particular permutation of the daily squabbles among my three munchkins was not the norm. Patrick (my peace maker) was rarely the villain on the scene.
My two bookends, Rob and Peter, maybe..
But I can assure you that minutes after this photo frame the three of them were playing nicely and had forgotten about the theft of the baby doll. Why would they continue to fight when they have one another to play with? Forgive and forget. So easy at this age.
This same scene in 20 years could potentially have a different outcome. You betray me or take something that belongs to me and it may be very difficult for me to forgive you.
Because I am stubborn. Because I have this thing called pride. Because I don’t respect the history we have had together and am not willing to put aside my “rightness” in order to mend the relationship and find a way to move on from here. Or perhaps I just don’t know how to do it.
How do we seek forgiveness?
Have a contrite heart. Be vulnerable. Put pride aside. Admit to being wrong, or stubborn, or cross, or oversensitive. Then ask for forgiveness.
Allow God’s grace and mercy to work their magic. And begin anew.