Palm Sunday and the Shifts of Lent

Elizabeth Duffy has a strong piece on how Lent begins to feel, after a while:

It’s always around this time of year that I wish I had given up a noun rather than a verb for Lent—some thing, some arbitrary thing that in and of itself is not bad, but would just be a concrete thing to sacrifice, so that on Easter Sunday, I can partake of it after forty days of abstinence, and mark the end of the Sacrificial Season.

It is good to give up bad habits, like arguing, for Lent. It is good to do more positive things like praying early in the morning. The only problem is that if something is worth doing or not doing during Lent, then it’s worth continuing the practice after Lent.

The beauty and blessing of Lent is that it makes us uncomfortable, like that; it’s not good to be too comfortable; it makes us lazy, complacent and unaware. We cannot “succeed” at Lent; we’re meant to fail at it and realize our dependence on grace, and to be uncomfortable enough to shift.

Kathryn Lopez is wondering (as am I) where Lent went, and she goes to two modern women to help make the most of the next few days before the Triduum.

One place to start: If you have not already, meditate on the Pope Benedict’s Lenten message, which focuses on Heb 10:24): “Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works.” His reflection is here.

And, in case it helps get you going, I offer here two meditations (exclusive to K-Lo at Large!). One from a lay woman and another from a Sister of Life, both bright lights of the New Evangelization.

You’ll want to read it. It’s very helpful.

Meanwhile, do read Deacon Greg’s excellent Palm Sunday homily. It will make you shift a little, with discomfort, too!

It’s the shifting that’s important, though, as Joanne McPortland relates in a great piece:

They are tears that wonder what might have been had I swallowed my pride and tried harder, been kinder, been braver, been more willing to bend and forgive. They are tears that acknowledge that even the “best” divorce is a wound in the Body of Christ, an end to one unique partnership in life and ministry. They are tears that ask forgiveness of my ex-husband, of our son, of our families and friends and community. They are tears that signal a new kind of spring, the softening of a heart hardened against hurt for far too long. They are tears, in the end, of gratitude.

There’s nothing about any of that on offer at this weekend’s divorce expo, and I can see why. Contrition is kind of a downer, and there’s no money in it.

If you want to go even deeper — plumb the depths and feel the tightness in your chest a little — check out Thomas McDonald on “Mourning the Pierced One”

Finally, this is a Palm Sunday piece that will not discomfort you, and it may make you feel a bit innocent.

Happy Palm Sunday!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Alifa Saadya

    I always appreciate the attention to Lent and its customs on the various Catholic blogs that I read. Did you know there is a kind of Jewish “Lent” in the month of Elul before the High Holy Days? In that period, the shofar is blown each weekday during the morning prayer service (a good way to practice for the formal blowing of the shofar that marks Rosh Hashana and the final l-o-n-g blast that ends the liturgy of Yom Kippur ten days later). In the month of Elul we do the following, among other things: apologize and ask forgiveness for wrongs committed during the previous year. This is sometimes just a formality, but often it is a rather painful task. We try to pay our outstanding debts. We clean the house. We address God as “Our Father, our King.” It is customary to wear white on the High Holy Days. We think long and hard about our mortality, and we pray to be written in the Book of Life for the coming year.
    Interestingly, Elul is one of the popular months for weddings, in the midst of all the soul-searching, it is also a time of joy.
    And so, for all my Catholic friends, whom I’ve met only in their blog-life, I wish you a solemn and prayerful Holy Week, and a joyous Feast of the Resurrection.

  • Katherine

    Alifa Saadya-thanks for that information.

    Anchoress, that was a really good progression of posts to highlight, thank you.

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  • EBL
  • Mark Greta

    Each event after the loss of a loved one is like going through it for the first time. My first lent without Greta will be followed of course by my first Easter without her. It is a reminder to me that in the end, we stand alone before God in judgement, not as spouse, son or daughter; alone. We are called to follow Christ and to do this we much die of self and to give Chirst all our entire heart, soul, and mind. One wanted to follow Chirst and only wanted to bury his father and Christ told him forget it. The rich young man had to give up everything and give it to the poor. Not sure why so many think that the price of the Cross allows us to continue to go on as we were before picking up the Cross God has fashioned for us. This lent, I found a cross waiting for me that was fresh wood, recently cut. It took me half of lent to stop looking at it through tearfilled eyes and to accept that it was mine to carry and to pick it up. Christ promised if I picked it up, I would find it light for he was helping with the load. So far, less than a week from Easter, it is not light and seems to become heavier by the day. Greta loved Easter. She loved Lent. Her calander was driven less by seasons than the seasons of the Catholic Church she loved. For decades she was the one to run to whatever cross was placed before her and I would follow along trying to keep up and help with the load. Now it is up to me. As I thought about this at mass yesterday and heard Peter deny three times, I realized how it must have been for Peter in shock to see the one he left everything to follow under attack and the world he loved coming apart at the seams. The smell of the charcoal fire he was using to hang around and warm himself came alive to me senses. Just trying to get by, to stay warm by the fire, to blend in. But the world around Peter said no, you were with Him. Many who loved Greta have come up to me to offer words of hope and encouragement and I sense some who wondered who would pick up the many crosses now being left lay. As the long reading continued, I sensed an internal voice asking “do you love me? If so, get off your duff and feed my sheep, pick up the cross and stop whining about it and get on with life for each day babies are being killed in the abortion mills. Our country is losing its freedom. The Church is under full attack. Catholics are being led away from God and toward pure evil. There is an election coming up and it is critical to stop this onslaught of evil.”
    Nothing like getting nagged by someone from heaven to wake you up. I sensed Greta was not alone, that she was with millions of the infants she fought to save, with the founders of our country who are seeing their work put asunder. It was JPII and Mother Theresa and the Little Flower. We never pick up the cross alone as Catholics for we have the Communion of saints. We are called to nothing less than to try to live a holy life and find our way to heaven. We are living in the worlds largest and most horrible holocaust and each morning it should be the mission of all those that love Christ to try to put that to and end. My last thought before the gospel reading ended was of the face of my granddaughter killed in an abortion mill and I prayed she is in heaven through the merciful love of God. This morning I rose with a joy at picking up the cross and it was indeed lighter. I look forward to this Easter and to the day of my personal easter where once again I will be with the part of my now separated by human death and both of us with our Lord for eternity. Easter is a joyous time.