I have generally been a lenten failure. It’s not that I set a goal and then fail on it, it’s that I never quite get started. Oh, I have grand plans! “I am going to observe lent!” I say with a spring in my step. Then the next thing I know it’s Palm Sunday and I have no idea where the time has gone and I haven’t done anything to prepare.
This has always been my struggle with devotional practices. When I was an evangelical I was always making grand plans to have a “quiet time” and then failing miserably. And then feeling guilty for failing. And then making new grand plans. And then…You can see where this is heading. Who says that Catholics have the corner on guilt?
It’s not that I don’t think about God; I think about God a lot. I read lots and lots of books on theology and church issues. I think and write about what it means to be the church and what it means to be a Christian. But this element of personal spiritual practice has always been a struggle for me. It’s not even that I don’t want to do it because I desperately do. I want to be one of those people who can spend hours in prayer, who has a mystical connection with God, who is invested in Scripture reading and prayer. But for some reason I always fail. I set my alarm so I can pray the hours and then I have a meeting at work and miss one of them, or I oversleep, or I feel like I have to be in the right mindset to pray and then I am never in that mindset and so I don’t pray.
So as I’ve been thinking about Lent this year I’ve been stressing about what my practice should be. Giving something up has never felt right or helpful for me personally. The idea of giving up Facebook or chocolate would be perfunctory. The idea of adding something in seems more helpful and so I’ve been thinking about what to add. Of course, my mind has a list of about 40 things that would be great but then I worry about overdoing it and feeling guilty and here it is…Ash Wednesday…and I’m still trying to figure out what makes sense.
Here’s my plan: I’m putting it out there so it’s public and so that folks can hold me accountable. Feel free to ask how things are going and to share what you’re doing in the comments. We can be Lenten buddies.
*I want to pray at least the morning and evening office. Maybe more, but at the very least two. (I also want to try to keep a list of things to pray about throughout this time so I can be intentional. If you’d like prayer for something, feel free to send me an email, tweet at me, or leave a comment.)
*I’m going to read at least one book on the priesthood. I have one by Archbishop Sheen on dock.
*I want to try Eucharistic adoration at least once during Lent. I’ve never done it before and I want to have that experience.
*I want to go to Mass at least twice. This is a hard one because I work on Sundays and I still don’t have a parish locally that I feel comfortable in as a queer person. But I’m going to try to find a place to go because I need the experience.
That’s my plan. It feels mostly doable and I don’t think it’s taking on too much.
What about you? What has your experience been with Lent? What are you doing this year?