Lent is probably my favorite liturgical season. I enjoy the somber tone of it. I like focusing on my relationship with Christ. I even enjoy the penance. I cling to the resolve of giving something up or adding in something difficult trying to create my own “walking in the desert” experience. It also helps that the Catholic community is doing the same thing so I feel even more motivated to stick to it!
This year as I dug through my spiritual bag of tools, my eyes were large with excitement. Should I go to Adoration more? Should I pray the Pieta prayers? Should we do a family rosary every night? It usually feels exciting in the beginning … the choosing part.
But someone tapped on my shoulder. I don’t know if it was a guardian angel or a saint but I definitely felt a deep sense of someone telling me :: cough cough :: serve your household :: cough cough.
I literally turned around after this happened. What do mean, “Serve my household?” I wanted to say, “That’s not even a spiritual thing,” but I knew better than that so I bite my tongue and pouted for a bit.
I don’t want to serve my household. I want to sit in quiet contemplation and enjoy the sweetness of the Lord. I want to get in the car and escape to an hour of Adoration. I want to read five amazing books about suffering!
But in the quiet of my heart, I felt a strong calling to serve my household.
You see, we just found out that we’re pregnant. This was quite a surprise since my youngest just turned 6 months old. That’s right, these kiddos will be 13 months apart. Whew. The truth is though, that the three times I’ve gotten pregnant shortly after having a baby have all ended in miscarriage. It is likely that will be the result here but I will choose to hope and plan to hold this baby for as long as I can.
I want to hide from my pain, and even hide in my pain by doing religious things. It’s actually easier for me to hole up in the living room and read or pray than it is to live life, out loud, with my family. I’m not naturally maternal. I was never trained to be a homemaker. And all I grew up with was divorce so I have no idea how to be a good wife.
I find solitary living comes much more naturally to me and it’s easy to choose those moments “in the name of Jesus.”
But Jesus knows our heart. He knows what we need. And while you, dear mama, may need to find pockets of alone time for deep contemplation, Jesus is quite clearly asking me to be Martha this season and to give myself over to my family.
This feels like a monumental task if I’m being truthful. I don’t feel like cleaning the floors or cooking anything. I feel like pouting and hiding out. But above all things I strive to be faithful so when someone invisible taps me on the shoulder and tells me do something good, I take a deep breath and agree.
This Lent I will be caring for my home: both the physical space and all the sweet souls who live there. I will be journeying through the rooms of my Domestic Church instead of venturing into the world. I’ve been busy these last few years, so it doesn’t surprise me that God thinks that my house should be my next training ground.
When it comes to planning for Lent, I keep praying over ideas until something makes me uncomfortable and then I know I’ve landed on the right one. So here’s what I’ll be doing this Lent.
- Decluttering. I’m going through the 8-Week Catholic Minimalism Challenge with 3,000+ other people in the Facebook group.
- Spending quality time with my children. I’m going to book this into my calendar and actually set a timer for our activities. I’m not naturally a playing mom so it takes extra effort and planning for me to do this.
- Freezer-cooking healthy food. I think I have two more weeks until everything makes me sick, so instead of leaning on unhealthy convenience food, if I can batch cook some soups and meatballs right now, I’m hoping to stay ahead of the game!
- Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet with the kids in the 3 o’clock hour. Though I like making most of my Lent about reading and praying, I think God is calling me to something else right now but this lovely chaplet is short and a wonderful way to pray for the conversion of sinners.
I do not pretend to understand the ways of the Lord. After a few rough years, these back-to-back pregnancies feel like unnecessary pain. But I have also lived long enough to know that there is always sweetness after pain. There is always growth. There is always shearing away of selfish tendencies and things that hold us back from loving God with our whole hearts. I want to be that kind of Catholic so I welcome the trials and try my best to keep a good attitude.
This Lent I’ll be serving my household.
What is God asking you to do?
Copyright 2018 Sterling Jaquith