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A Lent Like No Other

While every Lent is supposed to be new and different, 2020 did not disappoint. We experienced more than just a spiritual desert this year. We were deprived of the sacraments, of the Mass, of community. I found myself so fortunate to have the luxury, yes, the luxury of Eucharistic Adoration in our tiny parish during the pandemic shutdown. While it felt even more like a desert, almost a torment to look at our Lord on Sundays but not able to receive communion, it was a time of receiving great gifts from the Holy Spirit. What follows is an example of my heart speaking to Christ during Adoration.

"...forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us..." The Lord's Prayer

This Lent I struggle Lord. When praying the stations of the cross this year, the second station's reflection strikes me hard. I am reciting the words "I accept my cross gladly and unite it to yours." I struggle to be glad in it. Actually, it is more like I am accepting it angrily. My whole body feels this current cross is an unjust one, a battle against evil. And, you want me to gladly turn the other cheek and offer it up as well.

I offer it but, right now, not gladly. Every time I have to see or speak to my persecutors, I am revolted. I speak the words of forgiveness over and over - out loud, in my head, and in my heart - trying to mean them. I speak them in the hopes that eventually, after saying them enough times, your graces will open my heart and forgiveness will flow into me and, in turn, pour forth onto my oppressors.

I'm going to be honest, it could be a while, Lord. I am just not there yet. I know I do not deserve patience, another virtue I need in greater abundance. Thankfully, you are generous even with those who struggle with your directive to love their enemies.

Lord, please give me the grace to truly unite my experience to yours so that I may love my enemies, truly meaning the words of forgiveness with my heart and my soul. Amen.

The picture is inside St John Cathedral in Des Moines, Iowa.

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