Lent 2021

It feels like we were just here, that it’s not time yet for the self-reflection and rededication of these upcoming forty days. Everything came and went so quickly this year. It was hard to be excited for the seasons, to celebrate Jesus’s resurrection in a virtual Mass and then his birth in socially distant pews. It doesn’t feel like it happened if the family didn’t crowd around the table, or if I didn’t watch a video tutorial on how to fold a palm cross. We tried our best. I made holiday meals for two, video conferencing with the rest of the family while we ate. I put on a fancy dress for Christmas dinner, though a much smaller dinner than we’re used to. Admittedly, I read fewer books—I didn’t often have the mental capacity to read—and didn’t update this blog as often as I would’ve liked. But this year was strange for all of us. I don’t think many of us had the mental capacity for much of anything.

I know that I need Lent this year. I use it as a chance to recharge and put my priorities in order. Ascension Press has a “What should I do for Lent?” quiz, and I’m not surprised that my result was “Add a devotion!” That always made more sense to me than giving something up. (This year I learned that some people give up hot showers. Listen, I have my limits.) In a sense, it’s “giving up” my wasted time. Most days after dinner, I plop on the couch and play games until it’s time to go to bed because I’m too drained to do anything else. It’s fine to relax, but not for three hours. I have a daily examen journal that I’ll start using again. I’ll keep my rosary handy, and maybe finally memorize the Hail Holy Queen prayer. There’s plenty to do, and it’s only my own laziness that keeps me from doing it.

This is a season to get back on track. The first and easiest for me is to plan my reading, and I have a couple books lined up already:
Love & Responsibility, Pope St. John Paul II
Preparing for Easter, C.S. Lewis
EWTN’s free reflection ebook, with accompanying weekly emails!

Lent is always the same theme for me—be silent, listen to God, refocus. I always think this is the year things will change, that I’ll finally achieve that higher spiritual plane and bask in the light of God’s glory. That’s not going to happen, as long as I’m here on Earth. It’s a worthy goal, and I feel a bit of that light when I do let God speak. But things will always get muddy again; I’ll get distracted, or lose focus, or simply act like a human being. That’s why this time of refocus is good. Maybe I’m finally coming out of “quarantine.” I remember the last time I attended Mass before the shutdown, when they emptied the holy water fonts. Though it was only March, it felt like Good Friday began at that moment. Those months were like desert wandering that I never really emerged from, even after Easter. Maybe now, almost a year later, I finally am.