Way back a thousand lifetimes ago, before we had children, I decided to go to daily Mass during Lent. I missed one day—when we were traveling—but otherwise I made it to Mass every morning.
That was a really special Lent. That daily Mass, celebrated by a speedy priest on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, was just what I needed.
Fast forward to this year. Daily Mass isn’t even a goal. If it were, I would already be 0 for 1.
It’s probably good that I am going into this Lent with few expectations.
I work for a Catholic university, so I always think getting my ashes will be easy—and the opportunities are most definitely there. Yet somehow my work schedule didn’t leave room for that on Ash Wednesday. And my children’s school Mass was happening right when I had a meeting.
But I am always an optimist—or someone with no sense of how much time it takes to do anything—and our younger son had mentioned that he was singing with the choir at that Mass. So obviously I had to drive there to make it for the last 3 ½ minutes of the Mass, only to realize that my first grader was not singing with the choir after all. The ashes and Communion had already been distributed.
Ash Wednesday can happen without ashes, so I wasn’t in a panic. And then I remembered there was a noon prayer service. So I just stayed, chatted with a friend, stopped by the parish office to drop off our baby bottle with our pregnancy center donation in it, picked up a book for our parish Lenten journey, and then slid into a pew in our packed church.
Looking around the church, I realized I recognized a few faces from Sunday Masses, but I also saw many people who seemed to be like me—fitting this into a busy day, grateful to be able to receive ashes and begin this Lenten season. I felt right at home.
I received my ashes and a wonderful sense of peace—and the realization that God had put me right where He wanted me.
So that’s where I am this Lent. He’s in the driver seat, and I am along for the ride.
How is Lent going so far for you?