Lenten Journey #1

Here is the testimony of a family of 6 children living in Brussels. Mariana, the mother, shares how the family experienced the confinements imposed during this pandemic…

During the first confinement, we “gave in” to this very particular and unprecedented situation. Although marked by the incomprehension of what was happening in society in the face of an unexpected health crisis and for which we were helpless, and on the advice of our parish priest, we adapted our way of living our Christian commitment. However, we kept in mind that this was a temporary situation and that we would receive the graces to continue our journey and remain faithful to our duties as Christians.

With the help of the Catholic school that our children attend, we have been able to set milestones for them in their homeschooling schedule, morning, noon, and evening prayer times. Thus, at the beginning of the day, we prayed the morning prayer together before starting the school day at home, and in the afternoon, we prayed the Our Father before resuming lessons.

Keeping the family bonds through daily prayer…
In the evening, we never missed our usual evening prayer where each of our six children and ourselves can thank for the day, ask for forgiveness and entrust intentions, all accompanied by songs and praises. On Friday, we examined conscience altogether, and each one in silence confessed to God of his faults.

We followed the televised mass in the union of heart and prayer with Pope Francis. We were able to make the spiritual communion an intense moment of recollection in our living room. Service, mutual aid, and apostolate, which are also part of our priorities as Christians, had to call upon our creativity in order not to sink into inertia: dishes, services, shopping.

This time of confinement allowed us to rediscover the essence of our Christian life…
This first confinement, which took place in the spring of 2020, was a kind of obligatory passage, a stop in the family around Lent and Easter. We tried to make it a joyful time, different, like a retreat in our life as Christians yet without any perspective to make it a normalization. We wanted them to experience a true life and without creating any fear or anxiety to our children. So that they would feel reassured in our home with mom and dad. That is the trust that we should have towards our heavenly Father. Towards June and during the summer, we felt already back on track, with consistent restrictions (increase in the number of people at Mass, with respect for reasonable distances), a kind of gradual return to normality, with a rather positive outlook despite what the media could announce or say.

We feel that the Lord is asking us to struggle and to let ourselves not be darkened, to remain awake by remaining in joy.

The Church lives by the Eucharist, and so, we need it very much
The second confinement last October broke our morale, given the new prohibition to participate in the Eucharist. It made us rather angry with our religious leaders. For it was no longer a time of pause in the face of the health crisis, but rather a time of total incomprehension in the face of the decision to close the churches, followed by an aberrant restriction on the number of people who could attend Mass (15 in Belgium). We felt infantilized. We no longer see this as a moment of grace but rather a moment of struggle, and effort. We feel that the Lord is asking us to fight not to let ourselves be darkened, to stay awake by remaining in joy. We want to show our children that we must stay active and not passive concerning what is currently proposed to us. Was it not in times of war, of plague, that the churches were the most filled? Is not the Lord our True and Only Refuge, our Fortress in whom we should put all our Trust? Fortunately, the churches are open, but that is not enough. The Church lives by the Eucharist, we need it very much, and even the best pastoral care at home can never replace it.

A Life goal for the week

The first reading of this second Sunday of Lent tell us about the sacrifice of Abraham (Gen 22:1-2.9-13.15-18).
The season of Lent is also a time of sacrifice when we make choices to grow in God. This week, what do I sacrifice? What is it that I hold close to my heart, and that prevents me from making my way with God and with my brothers? Let’s let go and trust the Lord. He knows how to fill our gaps.