Today has had its ups and downs – really high points and low ones as well. I’ll give you the great news first! Someone very close to me had surgery last week. His test results came in today. He is cancer free! Praise God. I offered my mass today in thanksgiving for this wonderful blessing! Secondly, my niece asked me to take her to mass to receive ashes, as her parents were both having to work. I picked her up, and took her with us to church. When we got back to the car, she thanked me. She said that she had never received ashes before, and that today was a big deal for her. I was elated to see God working in such a young person. Thirdly, the noon mass was supposed to be “the working man’s mass” – no music, no homily. We did not get out of church until 1:05! The lines for ashes processed up the middle and side aisles for nearly a half an hour. The church was packed – with people standing in the aisles and sides, and still others lined up outside of the church as well. I saw people getting up to give ladies their seats. Others were assisting the elderly. The sheer numbers really did my soul good – They gave me such hope!
On the down side, my children scoffed at the grilled cheese sandwiches that I joyfully made them for lunch. When I asked them to help me clean house, they worked hard for about five minutes, then puttered out. I tried to explain to them why we, as Catholics, give up something for lent. We do so to show our love for Jesus, to say that we are sorry for our sins, to strengthen our will, to become stronger, more faithful people. That didn’t go over so well.
My twelve-year-old decided to give up ice cream, then later recanted and said that it would not include frozen yogurt – very disappointing. My youngest did not want to give up anything at all. Later he decided that he would give up thumb-sucking. In the middle of mass, he decided that the thumb thing would be too difficult. He whispered to me, “Can I give up picking my nose?” Through pursed lips, I lowly grumbled, “We’ll talk about it later!” They are just kids, right? I don’t want to force them to give up something that is not of their own choosing.
I think I might try a visual for my little one. This is not my own idea, but I can’t remember where I heard it. I’m going to make a cross out of brown butcher paper. With a paint marker, I will write, “I love you, Jesus,” on it. Then for each day the six-year-old is faithful with what he promises to give up for lent, (once we reach a reasonable decision) we will add a bandaid to the cross, to “comfort” Jesus. We can talk about how Jesus died for our sins, and how our sins hurt Jesus. We can talk about how important it is to ask God for forgiveness when we sin – and how He is always ready to forgive us when we have a repentant heart. I hope that this provides some motivation. Wish me luck! I think I’m going to need it!