Pausing to Pray

Houston, TX:  Holy busy day week month life, batman.  I know I do it to myself, mainly, but I feel like I'm constantly running / doing / prepping / recapping and, throughout it all, stressing.  I joke of my perfectionist tendencies, though they are very realistic and sometimes paralyzing.  I am conscious about my need to do, instead of be, but the doing makes me feel more alive.

In this year's season of lent, I had somewhat grand ideas of how to celebrate / worship / sacrifice.  A couple of years ago, I gave up alcohol for lent.  Since I have already done a version of that this year, and since there was no way I was NOT going to drink while in foreign lands, I scraped that idea.  Then I considered blogging each day about my spiritual musings.  However, after a few days overseas, I realized how hard it is to blog in general, let alone deep, meaningful ponderings, so that went to hell in a handbasket too.  (In the holiest of ways, of course.)  And then on the first Friday of lent, halfway through an amazing meal in London, I realized I was sampling some pork in a family-styled restaurant.  Without meaning to, I had broken the very basic Lenten no-meat-on-Fridays rule.  Somehow, I felt as though I was failing miserably without really meaning to.  (Cue perfectionism taking control.)

Credit: The Daily Heal
Luckily, my lovely mother offered me a small way to honor this holy ritual amidst the busy-ness of life.  She sent me a book before my latest travels called "Pausing to Pray: Lenten Meditations for Busy People."  It's small enough to slip inside my computer backpack and quick enough that I can (and do) read from it when I get a second.  She also has the same book and I feel even more connected with her, knowing we are both reading from it each day.

The book features brief excerpts from the Diary of St. Faustina and accompanying meditations by Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.  St. Faustina was a nun, mystic and visionary who reported a number of conversations with Jesus.  Throughout her life, she kept a diary of her about her exchanges but received little support from others and even had her works banned by the Pope for being “contrary to the views at the Holy Office” at that time.  Ironically, she spent a part of her life, and died, in Kraków, Poland.   Although St. Therese (my confirmation saint and namesake) will always hold a special place in my heart, I am starting to sense a kinship with St. Faustina.  Perhaps she can be my patron saint of blogging?

In the book, each day during lent offers a very simple, poignant message, which I take a minute to read and reflect on.  Some days feel more apropos than others, but so far, there has been one that I keep going back to for inspiration and encouragement.

My daughter, suffering will be a sign to you that I am with you.  (669)
Dear Jesus, I have always been afraid of suffering.  I don’t like pain of any kind, and I fear being abandoned and alone.  Teach me to trust that You won’t abandon me in the midst of my suffering, but that my suffering is a sign that You are with me in a special way.  My Lord, help me to trust in this truth and to not run away from trials.  Help me to realize that You are always very close to me, and never more so than when I am in the mist of some type of suffering. 
So simple, yet, so powerful.  And, while googling for an image of St. Faustina, I found a blog about her written by a 17 year old who seems wise beyond her years:
Are you scared of life? Fights with your parents? Impatient to find a partner to live with for the rest of your life? Jesus already has that covered, from your vocation–whatever it may be–to the problems that it’ll stir up. Surrender your life to Jesus and walk through that narrow path, waiting for Him to resolve your problems. He’s with you always, and He knows the pain you’re feeling. He also has the cure.
Perhaps lent doesn’t need to be a big production of what I have given up or am doing more of, but simply a chance each day to take a brief pause from the distractions to know I am not alone.