We are into the second full week of Lent, which I am “celebrating” in a very special way this year. I’m partaking of a very old and very mystical tradition, so stick with me through the explanation of what it is, it is changing my life and opening my heart in a deep and profound way.
I am approaching Lent this year differently than other years. I didn’t know what I was going to “do” or give up until about a week before it started. In case you don’t already know, Lent isn’t only about sacrifice, it is about prayer, fasting (which we think of as giving things up) and almsgiving. This year I decided to focus on prayer.
Stay with me here, or if you already know what adoration is, skip the next two paragraphs — in the Catholic church there is a very old and beautiful tradition called Adoration. Since we believe that the bread we break and the wine we drink in the mass (our church service) are ACTUALLY, LITERALLY transformed into Jesus’ body and blood, we believe that the transformed bread and wine is incredibly special. It’s hard to contemplate, especially if you are not already religious, but imagine if you had God physically in front of you, and that He could enter your body and heal and make you whole.
The tradition of adoration is sitting in front of that transformed bread and wine (which we call the Blessed Sacrament) and praying. It is a special way of praying in the physical presence of God. I was pretty skeptical about this for a long time, but after enough times of trying it and being brought to tears by the things that I felt I had no choice but to believe.
This Lent, I am trying to take time each day to “visit with God”, and sit and pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament, in Adoration.
This practice has been amazing and transformative. I am calmed, I am often brought to tears, I feel like I know how to go about my day in a way that will be better for me and those around me. I even get this tiny inkling of what will come next in my life, what I need to do to prepare.
The first day I did this I was with my sister and my Grandma, neither of whom are Catholic. I was so excited that though they aren’t Catholic (none of my family is Catholic) they wanted to come to AshWednesday service with me and receive the blessing of ashes, and pray with me. I was so thankful to have them there with me, to be in front of God with them, that I didn’t get into the nitty gritty of opening my heart wide until the second day.
That second day I went to the little church in my town and kneeled down on my pew in front of God, and tried to get in a prayerful mindset. I said an “Our Father”, I thought of the things I wanted to ask for, I thought of the things I was thankful for, the usual basic prayer stuff.
I thought of the things I was truly anxious and scared about, that tiny little place of true and deep fear in my heart. I thought “don’t do it Michelle, don’t let the lid off that tiny box, you’ll come unglued and won’t be able to keep it together.” Then I realized that doing that is exactly the reason I was there. I was there to open that box and let God in, I was there to come unglued and not hold it together. I felt my tense muscles immediately relax and I cried, I let all the little pain of my heart come out there in that church in front of that Blessed Sacrament.
When I left the church that day my heart was less heavy, my little fear box was less full. My armor was weaker and my heart was more open. I was kinder to those I met, I shared my love more freely. I won’t say that I was never anxious again, but that release brought great catharsis. A calming peace that came from not being held together, but open and true and in humble submission to my Lord and His plan for my life.
Sure I am giving up other things this Lent, I’m not eating meat on Fridays, I’m not playing with my phone during mealtimes. I’m cleaning my house and am only buying things we really need. I’m filling in my little Lenten prayer journal and reading the bible more.
My focus though, is on the prayer. On the opening up and letting go. On giving it up all to God, leaving it there at the altar in front of His body and blood and gaining His peace and guidance. It’s been amazing so far, and I can’t wait to go back again today.
If you live nearby, I invite you to join me any time. This Lent or not. Whatever faith background you come from or whether or not you believe the things I do. It truly is a mystical experience.
Have you ever had a mystical religious experience? Have you ever given up something for Lent that has changed your life?
Michelle Brown is the Owner / Editor of Oh The Simple Joys. There she shares her passion for parenting, birth, homeschooling / unschooling, gardening, cooking, living naturally and loving unarmed.
(c) 2015 Michelle Brown