Well it’s been a long lent, and the coming Triduum simply feels different. Looking towards the Triduum at the beginning of Lent, I thought this would be great, as for the last 20 years this was the time of year that found me on the home stretch of a marathon. Easter was the finish line, and there were more than a few Easter days that I collapsed after the final morning mass. So here I am, no overwhelming church responsibilities, and it just does not seem right.
Now that I am back in the secular world, lent was very different. Yes, I gave up and added on for lent, more so than I had in past years. When I was a cleric I knew lent to be a gauntlet of services, extra evening duties, and usually two or three extra lessons to prepare a week. Each lent was different as far as attendance goes, so you never knew whether all the extra work would be received or rejected. As the season went along, normal life at the church would unavoidably be changed, bringing complaints and angry people at the door of a closed church when schedules changed. Communication was key, but communication is also the greased pig of church life; I don’t think I ever caught it.
So here I am in the secular world, and I have to say, lent comes and goes; the only difference is my discipline.(what I took on and gave up) I went to church regularly, I went to the extra services and programs, but it all seemed so normal. This is sad for me, as I worked myself hard during lent when I was a cleric, and the secular world really does not have a clue. I look at my priest(s) this year, and see in their eyes the work load, all the while as a parishioner I only see the changed services and miscommunications. Yes, I found myself numerous times sitting outside the locked church doors wondering what happened to my rosary. (and I found it very easy to just shrug and go on with my day…no tirades or words with the pastor, but I digress) I went to stations, I went to RCIA, I went to rosaries, I went to meditations, I went to church often, but again, it all just seemed normal. This is a problem, because your clergy worked their fingers to the bone this lent, I guarantee it! Thank them, often. Being on the lay side this year I am shocked how easy it all looks from this side, and now I know why people would always wonder why I needed time off after Easter. It looks so “normal church business”, it is not. So I have to admit to being a bit depressed over wasted years and energy; and concern on how we bring the true discipline of lent to the secular world. St. Francis DeSales had great concern over this, and I plan on re-reading his works in the coming months.(along with my volumes of reading on home inspection)
To sum it up, I feel guilty because this lent was just “meh”. I feel sad because my first lay-lent in 20 years was just “meh”. I feel bad because I know the effort it takes to pull of a lenten season, and I feel “meh”.
We need retreats, both local and distant, to get us out of our routine during these 40 days. We laity need to take a more active roll in lent, so that we are not simply going from fish fry to stations to confession, like amusement park customers. Lent should be more out here in the secular world, and it is up to (we) laity to make that a reality! So tell your priest “thank you” and leave him be for a week, and start to make plans for how we can make next lent something special!
So with all the “meh”, you might ask what am I looking forward to? I am not only getting confirmed this Saturday night, but I am also getting to read!
I have been attempting to be Catholic on my own terms for most of my life. Entering the Catholic Church is a life goal, and here, I am about to realize that goal, not through anything I did, only by surrender and submission. I should take a moment to address the issue of my departure from Anglicanism. Some have said I had this planned since I left Good Shepherd. I may not be a financial wiz, but if I had planned to move my family just to leave my means of income; well lets just say if I had planned to leave Anglicanism I would have done things MUCH differently. This has been a life goal, yes, but I was certain (as I have spoken about in previous blog entries) I could do this my way. (cue Elvis). I had no clue when I came to Peter and Paul that I would be leaving so soon, and I still lament and struggle with the trials I went through there. But now all things are made new, and I will be truly catholic in a matter of days, and honestly I could not be more excited. Obtaining Eagle scout, my degree in Architecture, marriage, my masters of divinity, birth of my boys, these are all milestones in my life; Saturday night I reach, by the grace of God, another.
As if that excitement was not enough, I was blessed to be called to read at the Easter Vigil. Last night at practice, I was once again in the sanctuary, I felt at home. I hope and pray that God finds a way to keep me close to His altar. But for now, I want to serve at and around the altar at every opportunity.
So ends lent, and begins Easter. Let us rejoice that God has made all things new and that we can leave behind all that “we” have made old through our sinfulness.