"Behold, you desire true sincerity; and secretly you teach me wisdom." Psalm 51:8
We have the most slapdash family Lenten prayer rituals of anyone I know, sort of like our Advent traditions, without the fire hazard. I do try hard to make Lent meaningful for our whole family, yet in the middle of the season it is hard to see any benefit from the effort at all. And it is an effort. This year has been the most disorganized ever! Still, we stick to it, but I really do long for a tangible outward sign that sticking with our devotions is transforming our hearts to be like His.
One of our family Lenten devotions is praying the Stations of the Cross in our family room. It is a raucous affair, as children climb on and over furniture to take turns reading the prayers written on paper plates with rudimentary drawings of each station hung around the room. Like the candles during our Advent prayers, I wonder if the whole devotion is distracting, or worse, not dignified enough for such a solemn and profound prayer. Can the deep and sacred mysteries of faith break through all the noise? Maybe it is not helping my children sincerely desire to encounter Jesus Christ, Crucified and to look for Jesus Christ, Resurrected. Maybe I should change course now, while their is still a little Lent left.
|4 year old's drawing|
of the 14th station
Even as I am ready to completely give up the whole thing and just go back to the fairly calm decade of the Rosary we pray at other times of the year, I spy my little boy Max, pointing to a station saying "Jesus," and them babbling a stream of baby talk that has the exact cadence as "We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, for by your holy cross you have redeemed the world." Amazing!
Amazing that he picked that up in the circus that is our nightly Stations of the Cross. Amazing that even when nothing seems to be happening, grace received by a baby, reveals the wisdom of our nightly devotions. It is not in manufactured drama to increase superficial feelings of devotions and love, nor is it in perfectly performed prayers. The awareness of God, and of His saving love for us is the quiet, secret wisdom that opens little hearts and minds to God in familiar and sincerely done rituals and devotions. In pondering this, something stirred in my heart, and a question arises, very much like the question God asks Elijah on Mount Horeb: "Why are you doing these devotions?" And instantly, I answer, "because I love you, Jesus."
And that brought to my mind the verse from Psalm 51. It is our prayers that are offered with a sincere heart that yield the humble wisdom to begin to see truth in the mystery of the Way of the Cross, and to trust and love God enough to step into it. I am strengthened by it, unknowingly, and so are my children.
So, the mystery contained in these chaotic, rambling, noisy Stations of the Cross devotions have an impact that is more profound than it seems at the moment. Like so many things of God, grace is hidden in the messiness of life. Like seeds in muddy soil. The perception of something greater is aroused, and it is nurtured deep into Ordinary Time, long after the Lenten penances have gave way to Easter celebrations. Our family will continue to faithfully enter into Lenten traditions and rituals because we love Him, and His grace remains with us.
And His grace works not by our power, but by His. God's work is more subtle, more intricate and much more powerful than the signs I want to see.
Peace and Grace,