A simple, honest, no-frills Lenten voyage:

The burying of the Alleluia.

The reading of Scripture as well as one or two meticulously chosen pieces of literature in which to dwell during the season. For the reading is not just reading. It is Jesus.

The illuminating of twelve votive candles for our Friday night Stations of the Cross devotion.

Living simply.

Then there’s the giving up. I just can’t seem to follow through on this one. Which makes me want to, well, give up. Which makes me wonder Who I am following? Which, I’d say, is the point.

As a family, we “give up” for Lent. We have beautiful, long term, anticipatory plans on Shrove Tuesday. My husband and kids are doing well. They’ll continue to do well. I know they will.

Mostly I stray. And mostly, I am proud of the loves of my life who subscribe to the “real-men-do” philosophy. As in, real men do say the rosary and real men do need the crutch of scripture and of fasting and of repentance.

Like entering the desert of our souls. Like going with Jesus into the dark, empty wilderness for forty days. Like becoming aware our ragged spirits and begging mercy.

Is Lent more about forming and renewing or forfeiting? Is one more important than the other? And what does it say about me that I just can’t stick with what I plan to renounce? Possibly that I need to empty the soul more to know the filling of God?

My almost eleven year old offhandedly commented on Ash Wednesday that he s-h-o-u-l-d give up complaining. “But,” he claims, “Giving up sweets is just so much easier, you know?”

Hmmmmm. After little more than a decade here in this life, he already gets that forgoing treats is just plain simpler than addressing the struggle with the internal. With ridding one’s self of the difficult day to day struggle with the devil. With coming face to  face, ugly face actually, with sin.

Does the emptying of the soul, the cleansing through the grace of confession come only when we know how empty we truly are?  It seems that Jesus is doing everything. He is the one going to Calvary. And it seems that the least I can do is know the hole of my sin. Because knowing your sin and absolution of your sin is knowing God more. Loving others more.

I want that. And that’s my goal.

Acknowledging. Cleansing. Grace-filled and deserving. The greatest gift.


Here dies another day
During which I have eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me
And with tomorrow begins another
Why am I allowed this?


G.K. Chesterton


Copyright 2011 Christine Capolino


About Author

Christine Capolino loves her life as a homeschooling Mom! Chris resides in NY with her husband and their lively, lovable boys, who continuously color their lives. Her essays are included in Bezalel Books’ Stories for a Homeschool Heart and Joseph Karl’s God Moments 2 as well as “Mater et Magistra” magazine. Please stop in and visit her for a bit at her blog, Campfires and Cleats .Chris is thrilled to be a part of the Catholic Mom family!


  1. The idea that giving up “externally” is easier than the “struggle within” is truly something to ponder. Thank you for adding these thoughts to my Lenten journey!

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