We have all heard it a million times, ‘The road to perdition is paved with good intentions,’ and I had them, honest.
From the moment I opened my eyes on Ash Wednesday, I pledged to really delve deeply into Lent.
So, along with my giving up candy, and a few other superfluous things, I wanted to travel those 40 days with Jesus, growing closer to Him, sharing his last days and walking the Via Dela Rosa as He carried his cross to Calvary, his blood mingling with my tears.
I tried. Truly.
Instead, I found little time for those moments I carved away for prayer. Other things surfaced that filled my coveted spot. My husband got sick, my grandchildren needed babysitting, a dear friend was suffering with false accusations against him; two others had husbands leaving them. Others had sicknesses, loss of jobs, forced moves and more. It seemed that the more time I wanted to share with Our Lord, the more others needed me.
I tired to rise earlier in the morning, only to discover a plethora of emails from friends needing advice, or notes from editors wanting story rewrites or offering new assignments. One morning, I rose extra early and the dog vomited in various carpeted areas around the house.
Why is it always the carpet?
Weeks of this, and aside from the candy, I just gave up. Nothing I had planned this Lent was going to happen. I beat myself up until I was a bloody pulp on the inside.
I wandered through the Palm Sunday and Holy Week, picked up my son and his friends from school and meandered through the Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday. I hid Easter baskets and cooked an Easter dinner for a crowd of family and friends. I scolded myself when I went to bed that evening, for blowing another Lent.
Monday was the same–I was downtrodden and distraught over my failures.
On Tuesday, my husband and I went to the nursing home as part of our regular ministry to pray rosaries and offer Communion services. Afterwards, we were to go to Eucharistic Adoration together for our regular time slot. Unfortunately, Blaise’s neck was bothering him so much, that I took him home. The whole drive home and back to Church, I cried-loudly. I cried for the loss of my husband’s abilities so much, that he cannot even go to Adoration with me. I cried for my failings. I cried for our loss of lifestyle and income and cried because I felt so inept as a friend, a Catholic.
On my knees in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I wept.
Because Blaise didn’t come with me, I was alone. I prayed my novena four times, to make up for the four days I wasn’t able to pray. Then I sat. Silent. It was just me and Jesus.
For seconds, minutes, I don’t know–we sat in silence together, the two of us.
And then, I heard him.
He said: “Whatsoever you did for the least of my brothers, you did for me.”
And then, I knew what He was telling me.
It didn’t matter that I didn’t get to the specific Bible readings I had intended, or prayed specific novenas, or pray for an hour each morning. He was simply telling me that the things that kept me occupied the past weeks, were more important than my prayers. When I was helping others, I was doing it for Jesus.
It was such a good Lent, probably, the best ever.