Does anyone else find that Lent becomes more and more difficult as the days approach the Passion? Do you begin Lent with spiritual excitement, a full and satisfied stomach, bodily comfort and eagerness to give it all up, but then a mere week-and-a half-later you feel hungry, thirsty, spiritually dry, emptied of pleasure and......ready to give it all up?
I spent some time this morning reflecting on these marvelous forty days we have every year to offer more to the Father than we usually do. And it occurred to me that, in my own experience, the difficulty in the sacrifice increases as the days progress. Not only in the particular resolutions made at the beginning of Lent, but also, and even more so in the every day sacrifices that regularly accompany my state in life as wife and mother. Why is it, for example, that making meals is so dreadful these days? My desire to cook seems to have decreased more and more each day since Ash Wednesday. The motivation and excitement for preparing meals is, well, gone. (My poor husband, my poor children.)
But after thinking upon it more, I realized that this emptying of oneself, this reduction of self into nothing is just what may be expected of me. What? God wants me to despise dinner preparation? Well, probably not. But I once heard it said * that it is a deceit of the devil to believe if I could remove this or that trouble from my daily life then I could really advance spiritually - but rather it is said that the very trial given to me is the means, and the only way to advance, and if I rid myself of this trial I rid myself of The Way, The Via Crucis. And so it hit me, I can indeed accept this distaste for cooking, even if a desire to cook benefits my family, as a drought for a time that will in some way help me. How? I don't fully know.
But it does seem rather fitting that this continual decrease in joy and satisfaction that we experience through Lent coupled with an increase in emptiness and abandonment might lead us better to Calvary. And when the Good Friday comes, perhaps we will be more ready to truly hunger and thirst for the Resurrection.
*Fr. Basil Nortz on The Qualities of Love