In software engineering it is common to have a post mortem upon completion of a large project. A post mortem gives the team a chance to identify what went well and what went badly in the course of the project and investigate the root causes. The idea is to continue doing what is good and avoid making the same mistakes in future projects. I like to think of Lent as a large spiritual project that deserves its own post mortem.
When I look back at my Lent, here’s what I did right:
Received the Sacrament of Reconciliation
Listened to the Gospel nearly everyday
Prayed the rosary nearly everyday (okay, that’s not too different from my usual routine)
Fasted from alcohol, candy, and snacks during the day
What was less than ideal:
Did not attend any extra Masses or prayer services
Did not receive ashes on Ash Wednesday
While I did not snack during the day, I didn’t exactly show a lot of willpower in the evening. So my fast was more like a delayed gratification on some days.
What did I learn?
Listening to the daily Gospel really fills in the story and teachings of Jesus that you don’t get only listening to the Sunday Gospel. I started to better understand the buildup to Holy Week and how Jesus drew the ire of the Pharisees which led to his crucifixion. I will try to continue reading/listening to the Gospel daily.
I should try to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation more often.
Since I abstained from snacks and treats on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, I know I can make it the entire day without them. I should put in more effort to fast from snacks throughout the year, not just on those two days.
Now it’s your turn. What did you gain during this Lent? Where did you fall short and do you plan on correcting any errors made during Lent in this Easter season?
The Palm Sunday Gospel for April 17, 2011 covers the Last Supper, the Agony in the Garden, and Jesus’ Passion and death (Matthew 26:14-27). This Gospel covers all the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary. There is just so much in this Gospel it is almost a shame that we read it all at once instead of breaking it up over several Masses. But just because you read the Gospel straight through during Mass does not mean you cannot meditate more on it yourself. Take your time in this last week leading up to Easter to really absorb the central themes behind the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary. Meditate on Christ’s Passion and death and thank Him for all he does for us.
I know that many times we walk into the church on Palm Sunday and it hits us that this is that LONG Mass and we develop a bitterness because the Mass might run longer than an hour. Try not to think about how long the Mass is or how it seems to upset your plans for the day. That extra time should be seen as a gift, not a burden. Use that time to focus on all Jesus does for us and what He asks us to live. Jesus sacrificed His life for us so the least we can do is spend a few extra minutes with Him in prayer.
I encourage you to read my postings on the Sorrowful Mysteries throughout this week. Think about the quantity and quality of your prayers when you read the First Sorrowful Mystery — The Agony in the Garden. Pray for all those who suffer, especially those who suffer because they strayed from God’s path, when meditating on Jesus’ Scourging in the Second Sorrowful Mystery. Ask yourself how much respect you give to Jesus and His Church in the Third Sorrowful Mystery — The Crowning of Thorns. Look around at the crosses other bare and see if you can help them any way you can when you think of Jesus taking up His cross in the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery. And finally, follow Jesus’ example in His crucifixion and ask God for the strength to do His Will no matter where that takes you.
Make the most of Holy Week. Do not treat it like every other week of the year but really make an effort to turn it into a time of more intense prayer and meditation. God Bless!