Review of Lent

Friday, Apr. 12, 2024
Review of Lent + Enlarge
By Marie Mischel
Intermountain Catholic

Dear God, 
I didn’t do very well with my Lenten resolutions this year. Going into Ash Wednesday, I gave some thought to what I wanted to do for each of the three pillars of Lent, and I chose some things that seemed doable: adding to my prayer routine, fasting from unkind thoughts and words, and doing at least one good deed a day. 
However, as you already know, the only one of these I did even remotely well was prayer. And despite the fact that I religiously kept up the enhanced routine, I don’t consider it a success because even though I increased my reading and hearing about you, it was at the expense of actually talking and listening to you. I don’t regret adding the extra prayer booklets and Hallow podcast, because I gathered lots of great nuggets for reflection, but my time was spent collecting them, not pondering them. 
My biggest failure during Lent was fasting. It’s much easier for me to lessen my food intake than it is to refrain from critical thoughts and words. I have a friend whom I admire because she always says nice things about people and situations. During Lent I tried to copy her positive outlook, but didn’t succeed. I think I got better at not actually saying what I was thinking, and maybe when I did talk I phrased things less harshly, but if I were grading my performance I’d give myself a D-.
I wasn’t too successful at doing good deeds, either. One thing I noticed is that it’s difficult to do something nice for another person on days when I spend all my time at work or at home. Reaching out to people requires actually encountering them, and in the office I interact with maybe half a dozen people on a regular basis, and at home even fewer. I did try to make an effort to acknowledge all the service workers – store clerks and waiters, etc. – whom I encountered, rather than treating them as breathing robots present only to meet my needs. I will say that since I’ve begun asking for a blessing for “all those who go without” to the end of the grace I ask before meals, I’m more conscious of people in need, and have increased my donations to food banks and Catholic Relief Services. 
Speaking of doing good deeds, if the person I try to help doesn’t accept my offer, does it still count? Easter night I went for a walk and noticed a car parked on the curb outside my condo. It was still there an hour later when I returned, and this time I saw the hazard lights blinking. When I asked the driver if she needed help, she said she was waiting for a tow truck. I invited her to wait inside, but she declined. Which, by the way, I totally understand. As a woman I’m very conscious of how fraught with peril accepting such invitations can be. But my question is, did I do a good deed, or does the effort only qualify if it’s effective?
On another note, thank you so much for opening my heart during the Easter Vigil at the Cathedral of the Madeleine. I was at that particular Mass only because I was taking pictures of the celebration for work, and usually I’m so focused on what I’m doing I don’t enter into the celebration. That night, however, the Exsultet by the Men’s Choir drew my thoughts from the photos I needed to take toward the exultation of Christ’s rising. “This is the night,” they sang, standing around the Easter candle, and I felt the glory of the fire that banishes the darkness of sin.
A little later in the Mass the entire choir sang the Alleluia, and it seemed to me that the entire building reverberated with praise. When I bring it to mind the joy of that night is with me still, giving me confidence to carry my Lenten resolutions forward as I seek the to turn myself more fully toward you. Amen.
Marie Mischel is editor of the Intermountain Catholic. Reach her at 

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