I knew I hit my penance just right this year when I found myself thinking, “I’m not really liking this. But other than that, it’s not a problem.”
What I’m noticing this year is how important it is not to be afraid of the penance you’ve chosen. If you fear you are harming yourself, you are going to give up. If you are confident that what you are doing is not harmful, you have a better chance of talking yourself off the ledge. It can be helpful, in that regard, to try the thing outside of Lent before you commit to a whole season of it.
For some more thoughts on hitting the sweet spot: What Makes a Good Penance? Three Tips for Mid-Lent Adjustments.
Meanwhile, a glimpse at my spiritual life, Lent Edition:
8:00 pm: I am so bored at the prospect of carrying out any of the choice of chores in front of me that what I long to do is go off to a quiet place for some contemplative prayer.
8:10: Well, that was a great two minutes of prayer, but now it appears I’m just thinking about random stuff. Not actually praying. Try to get mind back to praying. Praying is great! Love God! Talk to God! Listen to God! Be with God!
8:15: Okay, actually I’m falling asleep.
At which point I turned on a bright light and pulled out the review copy of the extremely wonderfully very good book you can hear about soon. It’s by Julie Davis and as good as her last book, but in a completely different direction.
Artwork: Christ in the Garden, Jeremias de Decker, 1656. Via Wikimedia [Public Domain].
The disciples’ inability to stay awake is the evidence that they had no idea what was about to happen. When you are expecting trouble, you stay awake. You sleep when you think everything is fine for now.