Learn more about my latest book – All In: Why Belonging to the Catholic Church Matters. Available now!

#Fast Fridays in #Lent… not that we might do, that we might be… not the sins, but the faith.

#Fast Fridays in #Lent… not that we might do, that we might be… not the sins, but the faith.

Lent is not a punch card. It is not a ticket to heaven. It is not dues paying or making deposits in some holy account.

Lent, in the briefest way, means 40 Days. In the longer way it means this.

40 Days.

Productivity experts tell us that it takes more than 30 days to make something a habit. Some say 66. 

Anyway, I think that’s the point of Lent for me in terms of my spiritual life. It’s making me look at my habits and asking me to add a few that will aid my faith and help me break the sinful habits. It’s like me staring at Jesus in the desert who is staring down temptation. It’s making me stronger. But only if Jesus is with me to give me courage. And the only way he is going to do that is if I’m faithful to the church which gives me the graces I need, since I’m not very courageous on my own.

Honestly, there are many days that I want my Lent to be a ticket that I punch. That way I don’t have to enter into it fully. It can become something that I check off my to-do list.

Sorry, Pat. It ain’t a to-do list.

It’s more like a to be list.


Honestly, I’m so much better at the doing thing.

This is much more than a Martha vs Mary struggle. I understand that message. And trust me, what I’m thinking about is way more than putting Christ above housework and people about things. I understand those priorities. It must now be Christ always. First always. Not first mostly…  This is about how fast do I want to conform to Christ? How quick am I to obey for love of Him? How long will it take for his cruciform to appear in me?

This little meditation from the Magnificat stopped me cold yesterday morning. It is anti-ticket punch. It is antithesis of the gold star mentality of earning our way to heaven, or at least earning our way through Lent. It’s about full on entering into being the one Jesus is recreating us to be. To let Jesus be in me that I might become more like him, to imitate him with greater proficiency and more in line with his thinking, his ways.

And guess what? It positively will not happen without the Church and what the Church prescribes for me, not only this Lent, but always.

Sometimes we take up the attitude vis-à-vis the Church of someone who is looking for a certificate of good behavior. But the Church doesn’t supervise: she exists and we exist within her. She is the Body of Christ and we are members of the Body. Our dependence on her and our commitment to her, if they entail external acts or signs, are above all an internal and vital dependence and commitment. Our dependence on the body that she is, is considerable.

But our initiative, our responsibility, and our function are also considerable. We are designed as irreplaceable parts of the Church. Both our submissions and our initiatives are matters of obedience, as they would be for a body’s cells…

We don’t make good on obedience with a prayer said at Mass, with a devotion to a priest or to a movement. We don’t even make good on it with a faithful life of the sacraments, or with a fervent life of prayer, but rather by carrying our sacramental life and our prayer life wherever they must go, all the way to the end for which they were made.

– Servant of God Madeleine Delbrêl (from We, the Ordinary People of the Streets)

Wherever they must go, all the way to the end for which they were made. That is purpose of Lent. Because that is the purpose of faith… that we might be in a relationship with the One who called us to be.

But let me tell you, I repeat: I cannot be all that I am to be without the Body of Christ, the Church. I cannot make it without grace.

It is the Church that believes first, and so bears, nourishes and sustains my faith. Everywhere, it is the Church that first confesses the Lord: “Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you”, as we sing in the hymn “Te Deum”; with her and in her, we are won over and brought to confess: “I believe”, “We believe”. It is through the Church that we receive faith and new life in Christ by Baptism. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 168)

There is one tiny little prayer that priest offers at Mass before the Sign of Peace. Maybe you know it. It is a great consolation to me:

Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles: I leave you peace, my peace I give you. Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant us the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live for ever and ever. (Emphasis mine.)

I am always praying that in some way. Every day. Look not on the sins, but on the faith. My sins and the faith of the Church.

Thank you, Church.

 Above all hold unfailing your love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.
1Peter 4:8



More on I-am-faithless-but-God-is-faithful.

Remembering my thanksgivings, with a proverbial string around my finger

Remembering my thanksgivings, with a proverbial string around my finger

Ever keep a song on your playlist for 10 years or more? For me, this is one of those…

Did you listen to it?

Since it came out in 2000, every single time, I’m convicted by that lyric… “You are faithful, I’m forgetful.” It’s so true that I often just breeze by Christ, who is standing smack dab in the middle of my daily grind, and I miss his Presence. For me, this song calls me back to thanksgiving, every time. It’s often a song I play in the car on my way to adoration on Fridays. It’s a reminder of the wonder of adoration and the heart that calls unto to me whenever I’m there. But its a reminder to come back to Him. Daily. Over and over again. To not miss the moments that He is in. To ask him for reminders for my eyes to see that He is faithful.

I played this song again today, as I went for a walk down the country lane, as I prayed to keep Christ hidden in the center of my “to do” list for this holiday weekend. There is so much to do, and I’m already fretting I’m not getting it all done. That’s why I escaped to pray and walk and think, being mindful of what St Francis de Sales counsels. St Frank taught that a lay person ought to pray 30 minutes a day, and a busy person ought to pray an hour! (I’m trusting the logic of the saints here, big time.)

Walking back home I’m again convicted and called to make this thanksgiving weekend one in which I do not forget Him or His love for me, as I revel in the love of our crazy family reunions… yes, to see Him in their faces, every one. To even to keep a secret quiet place in my heart where His love is Present even when we are in lines of long traffic jams, or elbow deep in greasy dishes and clean up from feeding the families, or making various other small sacrifices that come when families travel far and near to be together.

“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor 1:9)

There are so many things to be grateful for this year….

There are my 30 years with this man…

And this amazing threesome…

And all the treasures of this past year… including another kiddo out of college…

(and with a good job, thankfully!)

And another studying at a great university that is restoring what it means to be a transformative Catholic institution… and who is excited to go to Mass here…

And the discovery that I now have a future son-in-love… (though we had guessed it might come to pass eventually).

You’ve probably heard this, but there are some cool things have been happening in my little corner of the writing world…

And as I pray, I’m grateful to live where I live and to know the good friends that I have both here in New England and around the country. Your friendship is like a tranquil oasis that soothes my erratic heart, and helps bring me near to Him. (A shout out to all the Among Women community too!)

So if you pass me by somewhere this weekend, don’t look for the string around my finger, look for the silly grin of gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving from my house to yours!