Friday, March 31, 2006

Enjoying Spring

The weather the past few days has been absolutely beautiful. It would be almost criminal to spend these days inside so we have been spending our time soaking up the sun. Today the boys and I planted 10 trees in the backyard! There are many things I love about having a new home - the lack of landscaping was not one of them. How I would love to have a full-grown tree in the yard to be able to sit under! Right now, I have 10 little one-foot seedlings in the yard (I got them from the National Arbor Day foundation). With any luck (and I do mean luck - I do not have a green thumb and never ceased to be amazed when anything I plant actually grows!), in twenty years, we will have all the shade our hearts can desire.

As an aside, a few days ago, I put up a link to the Center for Spiritual Direction website that I have been working on. I promptly deleted the blog entry when I realized the site wasn't working properly, but now it is up and running at full-functionality so please check it out! Center for Spiritual Direction Thank you!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Divine Work Done Here Daily

I'm currently reading "Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot" by Max Lucado. The book's primary purpose is to help us live the life God intended, to do God's work no matter where we might find ourselves. Lucado tells of a housewife who in her kitchen has the sign "Divine Work done here daily!"

How true that is, yet how often we forget. It is so easy to get bogged down in the details of daily living. We all have our to-do lists. Let's see - the bills need to be paid, there is a load of laundry in the wash that needs to be done but I'm out of laundry detergent so I need to go the store, supper needs to be made, the kids need a bath, and the list goes on. Sometimes it is hard to see God's work in our daily work, wherever that work may be,whether inside the home or outside of it. But every time we help someone, share a smile or a kind word, prepare a meal, or use whatever our particular gift may be to make the world a slightly better place, we are doing God's work.

St. Paul tells us that we should "pray without ceasing." A life lived as prayer is a life worked in prayer. Every time we offer the fruits of our labor to God, we give glory to Him. Our life has purpose. Our work has purpose. "Divine Work done here daily." Perhaps that is a sign we should all put up, no matter where our days find us!


Monday, March 27, 2006

Roads Not Taken

I took the boys to my parents' house today. The weather was pretty good and my father took the boys out to play a bit - the kids were so happy to see their bikes again! My mother and I stayed inside and had a very nice chat. I was telling her about my pre-cana day on Saturday and we were talking about marriage and second marriages and the challenges inherent with them. She was saying that everyone at some time wonders if they married the right person (my parents were high school sweethearts and have been married for nearly 42 years)! Sometimes, its interesting to fantasize what life might have been like with someone else.

We were also talking about other regrets. No one gets through life without them, no matter how hard you try. It's easy to look back at life and wonder what life might have been if we had made a different decision or taken a different road. But the truth is that we make the best decisions with the information that we have at hand at the time. And then we go on.

In reality, most of us make some mistakes along the way. There are things that most of us would like to wipe away from the record, but often those things are integral to who we are. There is nothing so bad that God can't bring some good out of it. If we pray and do the best we can, and trust in God, He will do the rest. He will take the decisions we make and shape our life into what it is supposed to be.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Too busy to pray?

I opened up the local section of my newspaper today to find this quote from Mother Teresa staring at me:

If you are too busy to pray, you are too busy!

I know that for me, prayer is the foundation of my life. It centers me, keeps me grounded, keeps me sane, and keeps me in touch with my creator. On days when I don't have the opportunity to say my morning prayers, my day feels all out of whack. The time I spend in prayer is probably the best investment I can make in my day.

One of my favorite prayers is the Rosary. I finally got a page up on my website on How to say the Rosary. My mother taught me the rosary when I was a little girl. She had me say one decade for each year of school I was in until I got to fifth grade when I could say the whole thing. My mother and I always said the rosary together every day until I got married, and I have said it myself every day since. It is so meditative and calming. I recommend it to everyone!

The Rosary Novena featured in the book link below is an extremely powerful prayer. It is fifty-four days of rosaries combined with other prayers. I have turned to this novena at times in my life when I needed to make major life decisions, such as deciding to get married and choosing employment. I have said it when we were selling our home and purchasing a new one. Most recently, I said it to help my nephew who had gotten into some legal trouble. This novena has never failed me. It has given me courage when I had none, and created miracles when we desperately needed them. I haven't always gotten an answer immediately, but an answer does always come. I consider it my "novena of last resort." When I feel completely overwhelmed by a situation, this is the prayer I turn to.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Role Models in Love

Today was Pre-Cana day at my parish. I've been a part of it now for eight years. The first year I gave a short presentation on balancing different and busy schedules, but for the past seven years I have spoken about Natural Family Planning (yes, it does work!). Every year, I am amazed by the love that the couples who have been married for over 40 years show for each other.

One of the couples is in their late sixties and gives the talk on sexuality. At first, it seems so out of touch to have this older couple talk about intimacy. But they are such positive role models of two people who have loved each other through sickness and health. They still hug and kiss as if they were teenagers. It is beautiful to see. As they were giving the talk, the woman was telling us about how she goes to the nursing home to give communion and how there is a couple there in their 80s who she looks up to as a model of love and devotion. It was inspiring to hear her talk about how much she has learned from watching them care for each other.

True love is an amazing thing. It has an incredible ability to give. True sexuality and intimacy go far beyond what happens in the bedroom. It is a choice to care for and about the other, to complement each other with our maleness and femaleness - to be two parts of the same side. Marriage certainly doesn't always live up to that ideal, but it is nice to know that it can. It gives us something to strive for.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

New Christian Novel

Information about this new Christian novel was sent to me, so I am forwarding it on to you in the event any of you are interested:

Frank Peretti’s latest novel House is an epic supernatural thriller about two couples fleeing from a killing maniac in the woods of rural Alabama. After seeking refuge in a house they think is vacant, they realize that the killer has purposely lured and trapped them inside. The characters come to realize that the house, while real, mirrors their own heart and soul, and unless each can defeat the evil within, the evil in the house will claim them. You can read more about House here: Frank Peretti

You can also check out a media presentation at: http://www.viawerkmedia.com/peretti

Passing on the Faith

However, take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children. - Deuteronomy 4:9

As parents, we have so much to teach to our children. This first reading from the book of Deuteronomy reminds us of that duty. We are responsible for passing on our faith to our children. Sometimes, it can be more than a challenge. There is a whole world out there that relegates faith to the back burner, and it can be hard to counter all the other messages our children receive. It can be hard to prioritize religious practices such as prayer, Bible reading, and attending Church services in our children's lives when they have so many other things to learn. After all, they are expected to know their reading, writing, and arithmetic, along with a myriad list of other subjects, participate in sports, and cultivate a hobby or two. But if we don't make prayer a priority in their lives from the time they are born, how can we ever expect them to continue that practice as adults? What good is it, to paraphrase scripture, if we give our children the whole world, but neglect their souls?

Of course, despite our best efforts, there is always the possibility that our children may grow up to ignore their faith anyway. At that point, as parents, all we can do is pray, continue to provide a positive example, and hope that the foundation we gave them will one day bear fruit. Like so many other aspects of parenting, our responsibility is to do the best we can and let God take care of the rest!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Miracle of Life

For some reason today the boys and I got talking about what they were like when they were babies and when they were in my tummy. I told them that I had a book showing pictures of what babies look like when they are in their mommy's tummies and asked if they wanted to take a look. They both did. We had a great time looking through this magazine I had picked up at my OB/GYN office when I was pregnant with David. It showed real photographs of a baby in utero for each of the nine months.

It is so amazing how at even one month you can see the baby starting to take shape - the heart is beating and the little arms and legs are starting to form. The boys thought it great to see the baby sucking his thumb happily in the sixth month picture and how the baby was running out of room in the seventh and eigth month. I told them how they used to kick me and how at times we could actually see the shape of an elbow or a foot pushing out of my stomach.

While being pregnant often doesn't feel miraculous - after all, you are uncomfortable and you waddle, and getting kicked repeatedly from the inside is not always pleasant, it really is an incredible experience to have this living person moving around inside you. As I look at my boys, who are so big now, it seems almost impossible that they were ever in there at all, but they were! And we had a wonderful time revisiting that time in our collective history today.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Walking the Stations of the Cross with Mary

A while back I had been asked by a member of the Spiritual Life Commission at my parish if I would be willing to lead the Friday night Stations of the Cross on one Friday. I willingly accepted and this past Friday was my day. The Stations are held at 7 pm which is when I am usually getting my little boys ready for bed, so I don't normally have the opportunity to attend. I really wasn't sure what I needed to do, so I went early to check in with the sacristan and find out what my role was. I knew that I would be reading the Stations but that Fr. John (our pastor) would be there or perhaps Sr. Cathy, our pastoral minister.

I was wrong - my role was in fact to lead the Stations. It was me and two altar girls and that was it. I had the role of the priest in the little booklet I was given to use. As I walked the stations with these two young girls, I was struck by how far women have come in the Church since I was little (and I am only 31!). Granted we still have a long way to go, but when I was young, women had only just started to be accepted as lectors and eucharistic ministers and there were no such things as altar girls. It just struck me as amazing that here I was, a lay woman leading a religious prayer service in church with two young girls assisting. It was a good feeling.

That wasn't the most profound revelation of my night, however. While I was waiting in the sacristy looking over the Stations of the Cross booklet, I noticed a bronze plaque hanging on the wall and I went over to take a closer look. Now, I have been in that scaristy at least 100 times and never noticed it before, yet on this particular night it struck me with such force. On it was written "These died for God and country. Pray for us." Underneath were the names of thirty-nine men who had died in World War II. It was the inscription at the bottom, however, that made me catch my breath. It very simply said "Holy Name Moms." My eyes started welling up. These names written in cold bronze were these women's sons. This was what these mothers offered as a final tribute to the little boys they had nursed, and rocked, and loved with all their hearts. How painful it must be to bury a child. God willing, I hope that is something I never have to experience.

But it is something that Mary experienced. Her son did not die a hero's death in war, but rather as a criminal facing the death penalty. Even with her tremendous faith, her heart must have been breaking in a million pieces. Yet, there she was, walking the road to Golgatha with him and standing at the foot of the cross. She was there at his birth and she would not let him die alone. He was still her little boy.

No matter how our hearts break in our parenting journey, Mary has experienced it all. Jesus gave her to all of us as our Mother. She is there to hold us up, help us be strong and continue to have faith.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Dancing with God

A friend forwarded this to me and I thought it was great so I am sharing it with you!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Dancing with God

When I meditated on the word Guidance,
I kept seeing "dance" at the end of the word.
I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing.
When two people try to lead, nothing feels right. The movement doesn't flow
with the music, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky.
When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead, both bodies begin
to flow with the music. One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to
the back or by pressing Lightly in one direction or another. It's as if two
become one body, moving beautifully. The dance takes surrender, willingness,
and attentiveness from one person and gentle guidance and skill from the
other.

My eyes drew back to the word Guidance.
When I saw "G: I thought of God, followed by "u" and "i".
"God, "u" and "i" dance."
God, you, and I dance.
As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust that I would get guidance
about my life.
Once again, I became willing to let God lead.

My prayer for you today is that God's blessings
and mercies be upon you on this day and every! day.
May you abide in God as God abides in you.
Dance together with God, trusting God to lead
and to guide you t! hrough each season of your life.
This prayer is powerful and there is nothing attached.

If God has done anything for you in your life,
please share this message with someone else,
for prayer is one of the best gifts we can receive.
There is no cost but a lots of rewards;
so let's continue to pray for one another.

And I Hope You Dance!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sometimes God hits you over the head

I was doing my usual morning prayers today when I came across this line in the Living Faith reflection by Sr. Ruth Marlene Fox, O.S.B.:

Maybe I know someone who needs a friend or a phone call or a person to drive her to the store or clinic.

Just yesterday my mom had called and asked if I would take her to the store today (Due to medical reasons, she hasn't driven in over 20 years). While I didn't exactly say "No," I did demonstrate an unusual lack of enthusiasm for the idea. I was feeling pretty badly about it after as it was, and then I read that passage this morning. So, yes, I called my mother, and the boys and I did take her shopping today, which was obviously what I was supposed to be doing.

Sometimes God is anything but subtle!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Best Things in Life . . .

Today the boys and I were alone at playgroup for a while before our friends joined us. There are toys there available for their use, but when no one is there, my boys love to use the room to run. They have races back and forth (and even get mom in the act!) and play tag.

Such a simple thing. It doesn't cost anything, but the joy they derive from it is immense. Hearing their laughter makes me pretty happy, too. The best things in life truly are free!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Signs of Spring

tulip plant

One cannot overestimate what it means to have spring come for those of us who live in northern climates. Even though this winter was not particularly harsh, there is still something about those first few warm days when people emerge from their homes to soak up the sun. It is so refreshing to be able to step outside without hats and coats. You get to see neighbors you haven't talked to all winter, and go for walks without shivering.

One of the best things about spring, however, is watching new life grow. The picture above is of one of my tulip plants. I have a whole bunch poking their heads out in my garden. I love bulbs because you plant them in the fall when the air is turning colder. It is such an act of hope to believe that they will be there to greet you in six months when spring comes.

I remember when I was pregnant with David that I planted tulips. I was only a couple months pregnant at the time, but I recall thinking that the baby would be here before the tulips bloomed. So much can happen in six months!

So, here's to spring and all its possibilities!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Attn: Holyoke Catholic Grads

Holyoke Catholic H.S. is my alma mater. It is a wonderful school with a rigorous academic program. A few years back it was forced to leave its downtown Holyoke site and found a temporary home in Granby, MA. They are trying to build a new school in that same location, but the deadline for raising funds is quickly approaching and they are still $3 million short. This is a school that can't afford to close. We desperately need it in our Diocese, so please, if you are a HCHS grad or if you just care about Catholic education, please make a donation - every little bit helps.

The address is:

HCHS Building Fund
66 School Street
Granby, MA 01033

Thank you!

Prayers to St. Therese

In the coming days, I am going to try to put on my website some of my favorite prayers to share with you. Tonight I put up two prayers to St. Therese of the Child Jesus:

Prayers to St. Therese

Friday, March 10, 2006

Cherishing the Moment

I ran into an acquaintance at the grocery store today. Her youngest son and my sons were in the same storytime together at the library a year ago. I asked her how she was, and she said that she was great because all three of her children were in school now! I asked her what she did to fill the time and she went on about how wonderful it was. She gets to go shopping alone (Admittedly, this was a particularly attractive concept at that moment as my children had been somewhat less than cooperative on this particular shopping excursion!), take a shower alone, she gets to exercise and make her own lunch every day - all the things she used to take for granted before she had children. I told her that those opportunities did sound amazing!

I meant it. My days are full of child-centered activities. Anything I want to do involves bringing two small children along. Alot of time, I don't even get to use the bathroom alone. "Me" time takes place at night, after they are sleeping, and even that is stretching the definition of "me" time because that is when I work. If I'm lucky, I get one night a week to sit and relax and work on a hobby and watch some television with my husband. I can't even remember my life before children. What did I do to fill the time? So, yes, the idea of having five hours to myself every day certainly has some appeal.

Honestly, though, as much as part of me is looking forward to that day 2 years from now when both David and Isaac are in school, I know that it will be a trade-off. I will be giving up all that time with my children, time that I spend now listening to their stories and playing games with them and going to playgroup and to my parents' house. I will miss adhering to our own schedule, and being able to spend snowy or rainy days inside where it is warm and cozy. I will miss curling up on the couch after lunch and reading book after book to them as they snuggle close.

We will instead have to adhere to a school schedule which will determine when we get to have our quality time. There will be homework and extra-curricular activities and lunches to pack for the following day. There will be peer pressure and parent-teacher conferences. I think that I will be trading one set of challenges for another!

I am in no rush to get there. David is starting kindergarten this Fall, and I am trying hard to savor these last few months with him at home. I know we will all adjust come September - life is about change, after all. But part of me just wants to hold on to now for a little while longer because where I am is a very good place to be.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Discovering Esther

Today's first reading is from the Book of Esther. I first discovered Esther last year when I decided to read that book of the Bible after hearing of the feast of Purim (which is this coming Monday). Esther is an unlikely hero. She is a beautiful Jew living in the foreign land of Persia. When King Xerxes decided to create a harem of 100 women, she was among the "chosen." Warned by her father figure Mordecai to hide her Jewish identity, she blends in with the native Persians. After a year-long course of beauty treatments and preparations, she is presented to the King who finds her most appealing and he makes her queen.

Five years later, the ruse falls apart. Haman, an advisor to the king, begins to plan a genocide of the Jewish people. Mordecai begs Esther to intervene. She is initially reluctant, but ultimately, after directing all of the Jewish people to fast and pray for three days, she takes her life in her hands and goes to the King (an act punishable by death - one only went to the King if summoned) and saves the Jewish people. She was indeed one of God's workers, in the right place at the right time.

The story of Esther is very interesting. Her book of the Bible is relatively short and easy to read. She is also featured in "Lost Women of the Bible." Check it out!

I will leave you tonight with an excerpt from today's reading. It is part of what is known as "Esther's prayer" which she first finds out about the plan to wipe out the Jews:

O God, more powerful than all, hear the voice of those in despair. Save us from the power of the wicked, and deliver me from my fear. Esther C:30

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

We are all called to be Theologians

Two things I read today made me reevaluate what it means to be a theologian. My definition of a theologian has always been an academic one - someone with a terminal degree (Ph.D. or D.Min) in Theology. However, these two works opened my eyes to a much broader definition.

The first was from the book I am currently reading: "Lost Women of the Bible" by Carolyn Custis James. In it, she writes,

The word "theologian" doesn't appear in the Bible. Old Testament writers used a warmer, user-friendly expression, describing people who "walked with God." A theologian takes a long walk through life with God. . . The theologian sees God at the center of everything. She lives with a profound confidence that he holds the whole world (including her) in his hands.

The second is from the January 27, 2006 issue of Commonweal Magazine. Luke Timothy Johnson writes in "After the Big Chill: Intellectual Freedom & Catholic Theologians" that

All in the Church should practice theology. All Christians are called to discern and bear witness to the ways in which God is at work in their lives, and all are needed to help the community as a whole discern how God's holy Spirit is moving within their lives.

I think that these two quotes serve to illustrate that we are all called to be theologians, to walk with God and see God as the center of all and to discern, with the help of others, the way the Spirit moves in our lives. What a wonderful call!

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Lord's Judgment

This is an excerpt today's Gospel reading. I think that it is a good reminder of the care we should give to one another.


When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right,

"Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me."

Then the righteous will answer him and say, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison and visit you?"

And the king will say to them in reply, "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." (Mark 25:31-40)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Facing our Demons

"At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan." (Mark 1:12)

Even Jesus was tempted by the devil, so it should be no surprise that we are also. Lent, especially, is a time for us to face our demons, the things that in particular tempt us and try to lead us astray from a good life. Many people give up their own particular vice during Lent, whether that be smoking or drinking or caffeine or any number of less than desirable behaviors.

But there are many demons that are of a mental nature only - the temptations of pride, lust, and envy, to name just a few. It can be very difficult to control our thoughts when they start to wander into these areas. It is hard to recognize these for what they are, the devil trying to tempt us. Lent is a good time for us to face these demons head-on, to look the devil in the eye and say "Away with you, Satan!" When we notice ourselves thinking in these ways, we can force ourselves to think about something else. We can even pray! God will always come to our aid if we ask.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Time for a Cleaning

Today we went out and bought a vacuum cleaner. I am embarassed to say that we have been without one since before Christmas when ours began smoking while I was doing some holiday cleaning!We had been sweeping the rugs and doing our best to keep up with the dirt levels, but still the dirt was starting to become noticeable. Having received confirmation that our tax return had been deposited into our bank account, we finally had the "extra" money to make this purchase.

We immediately came home, took it out of the box, read the instructions and got to work. Even our two little boys were excited! Let me tell you, the difference was amazing. It is so nice to have clean floors again.

I think that our souls are a little like my floors. I can remember my first grade teacher giving a lesson on sin. She drew a circle on the chalkboard and told us that was our souls. Each time we sin, a little speck got placed on the circle. Eventually, more and more specks (sins) got put on until a good portion of the circle was colored in. When we go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the soul got wiped cleaned and we had the opportunity to begin anew.

Sometimes, we don't even notice our souls getting a little dirty. We may, with God's grace, manage to avoid the big sins, but even the little ones begin to add up. Like my floors which looked perfectly fine for quite a while, eventually the dirt becomes noticeable. Lent is a good time to get a major cleaning via the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If you need more encouragement, check out "Lord Have Mercy" by Scott Hahn. It is a wonderful book which brought me back to the Sacrament last year after four years away.

World Day of Prayer

Today is the World Day of Prayer, an opportunity for all of us to reach out and pray for our world and each other. According to today's entry in Living Faith, the World Day of Prayer was "initiated in 1927 by a group of Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant women to encourage 'informed prayer and prayerful action' around the globe."

If you have a special intention, you would like others to pray for, I invite you to post it to this blog entry. I would be happy to pray for your intention. In exchange, please pray for my family. My father is currently battling prostate cancer, and while his prognosis thusfar is good, it is still a difficult time for my family and me. Thank you in advance.



Today is also the feast day of St. Katherine Drexel. She was a remarkable woman. Read about her here:
St. Katharine Drexel

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Marriage Decline

Ten years ago today my husband proposed to me! He asked me to go on this grand adventure of life with him, and what an adventure it has been! We have had our share of good and bad times, but given the choice, I would do it all again.

It seems like marriage has gone out of style. I serve on a Pre-Cana (marriage preparation) team at our parish. We do a yearly one day workshop in which engaged couples come and get to listen to marriage veterans talk about the joys and challenges of marriages. Our parish is blessed with some truly committed couples (some of whom have been married over 40 years) who are willing to share their stories with these young people just beginning the journey. When this team started eight years ago, we had 50 couples attend. Right now, we have six scheduled for this month's program. One reason for the decline is that there are additional parish-based programs in the area, but the larger reason is that fewer people are getting married. You can see it just looking at the engagement and wedding announcements in the paper.

Yesterday, I was reading the January 2006 issue of "Columbia" magazine (yes, I am a little behind in my reading), and there was an article by Bishop William E. Lori on how he recently gave a talk on the need to pray for vocations - marriage vocations! He wrote that "arguably, the declining number of solid marriages is the most fundamental vocations shortage facing both Church and society." I know that many young people today have experienced divorce in their families, and perhaps some have decided that forever isn't even worth trying for. That is just so sad. I wish these young people could meet the wonderful role models of our Pre-Cana program and hear how marriage (while difficult - nobody ever said that it was easy) has enriched their lives. Loving married couples who find joy in their life and stick it out through the less joyful parts are the best advertisement for this vocation.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ash Wednesday

"Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return."


David jumped into our bed early this morning. "Mommy, mommy," he exclaimed, "It's Ash Wednesday!" The reason for all this excitement was that he had received a child's lenten devotional at CCD on Sunday. It has a picture of Jerusalem and a little sticker book that goes with it. Each day of Lent you read part of the Passion Week story and get to put a sticker on the picture of Jerusalem. It was such a long wait for him from Sunday to today to get started.

As adults, we generally don't approach Lent with all that much enthusiasm. After all, Lent stands for sacrifice and reminders of our sinfulness. These aren't exactly reasons for celebration! Yet, we know that we are moving toward the great Easter event - the Resurrection! Lent provides us the opportunity to get ready, so perhaps we should welcome it and look forward to this opportunity to help ourselves be just a little bit better.