Lenten Effort Over Lenten Success

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"Lenten effort over Lenten success" by Kelly Guest (CatholicMom.com)

Copyright 2019 Kelly Guest. All rights reserved.

We are less than a week into Lent and I’ve messed up already! Why is it so difficult to rise with the alarm – the first time? This is going to be a long Lent. I begin to wonder if I should just choose something else for my sacrificial offering to God this year.

Then I remember. God delights more in our efforts than even in our successes. “For it is loyalty …” (some translations say “steadfast love”) “… that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). God does not need my sacrifice; getting up when my body wants to stay just a few moments longer under the warm covers is for me, so that I can learn to discipline the flesh. God, on the other hand, delights in my steadfast efforts. My longing to be more like Him and know Him better pleases Him.

I imagine God, who is Father, takes as much delight in my struggle as I do in my toddler’s determination to walk. She rises up on her own two feet, steady herself, take a few steps, and, as I knew she would, she falls on her bum. I smile, tell her, “Good job! Try again!” Then, I help her up and encourage her to step out again. As she begins walking, I hold my hands out to her, cheering her on: “Keep coming!” What joy when she finally makes it the few feet to my outstretched arms!

I am that child; God is the Father coaxing me forward. The important thing is for me not to give up, to keep trying. But how do I hope to conquer the flesh, which is so weak?

I look to the Stations of the Cross. Jesus fell three times. In His mercy, He allows me to see His human weakness. Thank you, Jesus. He also shows me what to do next. Each time He fell, He got up and kept going. He walked to outstretched arms.

What motivated Him? Love. Love for me. Thus, love for Him will motivate me.

I notice, also, that after the first fall, who is there to give Him comfort? Mary. After Jesus is condemned to death and accepts His cross, He falls – almost immediately, like me. At the Fourth Station, though, Jesus meets His Mother. Her presence and prayers give Him aid. I know this because at the Fifth Station, Simon helps Jesus carry the cross. Then, the Seventh Station, Veronica wipes His face. Through Mary’s prayers, Jesus was helped. Mary will help me, too.

So, tomorrow morning, when the alarm goes off, I will roll out of bed onto my knees, and say a Hail Mary. Or perhaps I will say the Hail Mary, then roll out of bed. Baby steps!


Copyright 2019 Kelly Guest 

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About Author

God has given Kelly lots of wonderful opportunities to follow Him. She was a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia in Nashville, an education coordinator for a Catholic Charities' program for pregnant teens, a middle school teacher, a director of religious education and is now a youth minister. Her most challenging and rewarding calling, though, is wife and mother of ten children. What she has learned, she blogs at CatholicMom.com.

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