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April 16, 2014

Lenten Reflection During Holy Week

As I contemplated returning to the blog-world when Easter had passed, I thought a lot about how Lent went this year. Last year, Lent was a mess. I already covered that. And I wanted this year to be meaningful in some way, but I wasn't sure I knew how to accomplish that. The past 15 months, spiritually, have been weird for me. While I am sure I drew closer to Christ through my sorrow and grief, at times I wonder if I negated some of that growth with my spiritual apathy.

It may or may not surprise you that my prayer life has been a bit sporadic. I do the prayers with my kids (before meals and before bed) and I pray a rosary whenever I run outside. I also attend Mass every week, but how attentive and prayerful I am mostly depends on how my children behave. I'm not proud of this, it's clear that I've been slacking in the prayer department.

Even this Lent, I have had a hard time figuring out how to right this sinking ship. I picked up a Catholic book on spiritual warfare, only to fall asleep every time I tried to read it. I went to confession, but I feel like it was not the "big deal" confession usually is for me. (Note: Typically, I rush my butt to confession when I have one or more of those really horrible mortal sins...and if I don't have one or more of those, it's easy to put off confession. So that would be why confession usually is a "big deal.") I didn't make it to an extra Mass each week like I thought I might try to do. I haven't prayed a rosary with my children in a very long time.

Basically, I'm starting to feel like I'm failing at this "raising my kids Catholic" thing. My children get a lot of faith formation at school (it's why we have them in this particular Catholic school in the first place) but I am slacking at home. The more I've focused on things like losing weight and getting in shape and keeping my children in their activities, the less prayer and faith has taken the forefront of our attention. That makes me sad.

Of course I know that unless I discipline myself to pray and focus on growing in my faith, I cannot spur the same in my children. I feel somewhat at a loss as to how to fix this. Our evenings are crazy with volleyball and swim practices and Crossfit workouts for Craig and me. The weekends fill up quickly with outings, birthday parties, errands, homework and chores. It seems like every minute of every day is consumed with something and I wonder...when did I find time for this before? Because the honest truth is, I used to make time for this. I used to go to daily Mass, and I used to pray in the car, and I used to go to confession every other week.

I often wonder if some of the things I've taken on are distractions from the devil designed to take my focus away from God. I gotta be honest, though, it's hard for me to believe that getting to a healthy weight and taking care of my body (my temple) is evil. I've needed to take charge of my health for a very long time and now that I'm doing it, it's difficult for me to find fault with that. I don't believe I have an unhealthy obsession or anything. I am simply trying to get (and stay) healthy. I also have a hard time understanding how providing activities for my children (that also contribute to their health and well-being) could be "of the devil."

So, I'm kind of hitting a confusion point. How do I get my (and my family's) prayer life back on track without giving up the gains we've made in other areas? Are we doing enough? I have a hard time believing that -- but I can't figure out if I can't believe it simply because I will never feel like we are doing enough.


How do you balance the activities you sacrifice to provide for your family and yourself with the need to stay close to God?

6 comments:

  1. I am experiencing a similar struggle. Life is so full, there doesn't seem room or time or energy for meditation or deep prayer (vs. grace before meals and bedtime prayers). I've also started to realize my life, while so busy and full, doesn't seem rich or fun anymore: it's lackluster. Do you find that, too?

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  2. I can only comment as mom of 2, working full time, hubs not Catholic but is supportive. And there's lots more I would like to do in terms of prayer life too! But here is where I'm at right now ....

    *before getting out of bed in the morning: I hit snooze and say my waking up prayer - it's based on a Celtic type of prayer where I give the Lord different parts of me to do His work (starting with 'I give you my feet to walk in your way, my hands to do your work ..... ending with my heart that you may love others through me, my spirit that you may teach me to pray' or something along those lines.

    Then after dropping the kids off at school I have a few prayers for my 20 min commute. (Yes I see the gap here: not saying morning prayers with the kids. A next step for me??) The morning commute prayer involves asking the Holy Spirit to come into our hearts this day, etc. Then I say the Our Father, pausing at each line to really pray over it. With different challenges, different things will take more time.

    During my work day I need to find ways to make more room for prayer ... another next step.

    On the commute home I have found a wonderful prayer - here is the link - I love it because I didn't used to pray for how to be closer to God when taking care of my family, whereas I did so much praying to prepare me for my work day. Craziness!

    http://frdenis.blogspot.ca/2014/03/a-short-catechism-on-love.html

    For bedtime, a few days a week the kids & I read a story together (a chapter of Chronicles of Narnia is the current one) and then they cuddle up and I say a rosary. this works as I only have 2 kids and they go to bed at the same time. If they are still awake by the time I'm done the rosary they go to their rooms, otherwise I let them sleep awhile in our bed and I move them to their rooms when I go up. Note this is not considered good parenting for sleep habits.

    Oh ... whether or not we do the story I always do a blessing for each child before bed (May the Lord bless and keep you, make his face to shine upon you ....and some other stuff that fits for us).

    Then I go downstairs to tidy up and do the prep work I need to do for the next day. When I go up to bed there is another prayer I do, again from a Celtic tradition - giving the Lord my mind, my will, my wish etc. with a pause to reflect a bit on each one.

    Hmm, this makes me think I should actually do a blog post about this at my own blog. I hope there is something helpful to you in here :)

    God bless you & your family.

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  3. And one more thing - every Sunday after lunch we all have 1 hour of quiet time - that is when I do lectio divina for one of the mass readings - I show the kids something relevant in their children's Bibles and encourage them to spend some time in prayer before they turn to quiet activities. That one hour a week makes a huge difference for me!

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Thank you for reading. I enjoy reading other perspectives, please feel free to share yours. :)