Prior to the beginning of Lent, nearly every year, I am tempted to bitterness and resentment.
Why, you may ask? Mostly because I’m a whiner, but also because I’m a mother. A mother of 7 children, all under the age of 14, and I am almost always nursing or pregnant. While I know that there are mothers out there who find motherhood easy and breezy, I do not. On the contrary, I find motherhood difficult, for it involves great suffering and great sacrifice.
And then Lent rolls around, and I’m tempted to think to myself, I never left Lent last year! I was up four times last night. The baby screamed all day. I have stains on my shirt. I spent a 1/5th of this year in a hospital for my son. We just moved 600 miles. We have no friends. I already fast every Friday, and now I’m supposed to do more penance? I think I’ll drink another glass of wine…
This kind of thinking does no good, and when I catch myself at it, I consciously reject it, for I’m only thinking about myself; I’m not thinking about Jesus, and I’m not thinking about my eternal salvation or that of others.
And of course motherhood is worth it! I’m just saying there are moments when extra penance is incredibly difficult and perhaps not advisable in certain situations.*
Enter Simcha Fisher’s Thoughts
But, truly, I wonder about women–mothers, in particular. Is extra penance and/or fasting for mothers in general? Simcha Fisher has an interesting piece HERE at The Catholic Weekly. I think she makes a really good point. Go read it.
Or it’s HERE on her blog. Seriously, go read it. I know that some people consider her a bit edgy, but boy, can I relate sometimes!
Enter Ember Days
Last week I finished my very first Ember Days of fasting. It was so difficult. By the time Saturday rolled around, I literally couldn’t move and crashed on the couch. My husband–no stranger to fasting–looked at me and said, “Enough already, Kim. I know it’s only 2:30pm, but go eat. You’ve done a good job; you haven’t complained to anybody except me, but now, go, eat.”
I hesitated a moment, then walked to refrigerator and ate a leftover sandwich, for I was exhausted and famished, and for a brief moment, I felt guilty. Couldn’t I just make it a few more hours until dinner-time?
No. No, I could not.
Even though I couldn’t make the full 3 days, however, it was still worth it, for I need to fast and deny myself periodically, but I also need to be attentive to my particular situation. If I’ve been up all night with sick children and am sleep deprived, it may not be a good time to take on extra penance.
Dear Readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts or any inspiration you may have.