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A Well-Tailored Cross (Guest Post)

[This is a post from my beautiful wife. Enjoy!]

It's the most wonderful time of the year. No, it's not Christmas, it's Holy Week, when a wealth of spiritual jewels, miracles, and mysteries are packed into a mere few days. No matter how dry or rich my Lenten experience has been, I've always been able to glean an abundance of graces from this intense spiritual boot camp.

... until now.

Don't let this cuteness fool you! There is plenty of mischief packed into
this tiny package. This is Charlie, our second oldest, holding his favorite food,
the Forbidden Fruit. 
Getting ready for the Good Friday service, I reflect on the constant distractions from entering into the spirit and solemnity of the Triduum. There are three little children with snotty noses and a proclivity for mischief. Being a stay-at-home mom, they follow me around the house like blood hounds and I just can't shake them off my trail. There are at least two decades of interruptions per five decades of the rosary. There are urgent questions like "What are we doing today?" and "What can I eat?" midway through an intense reading of St. Matthew's account of the Passion of Our Lord.

There was Holy Thursday Mass. Before the children ("B.C."), I took for granted how easily it was to enter into the that holy Mass. My experience this year was similar to watching a movie where there were commercials every 1.5 minutes. I fought frustration when my 2-year-old son was having a melt down in my husband's arms at the end of the pew, when my 4-year-old daughter talked non-stop beside me, and squishy 9 month old squirmed constantly despite my efforts to rock him to sleep. "Charlie, stop fussing you can't get down." "Lucy, stop picking your nose." "Stand when we stand, sit when we sit." "No, you can't get your feet washed too." "Eli, yes, you can sleep on mama." "Go to sleep, dear, please go to sleep."

My soul craves solitude and rest. I can feel it like an ache deep inside me as the Triduum passes and the commercials keep coming. The experience is similar to being jolted from a deep, peaceful sleep.

As I fixed my hair for the Good Friday service in the very meticulously scheduled time slot allotted for "me-time", I reflected on how it seemed that even my best efforts to eliminate the distractions weren't effective and only created tension with my already failing patience. Then ... finally ... came understanding:  God has offered me grace in a place I did not desire to find it.

My mom once shared with me a similar experience she had while raising the six of us. She, too, felt that there was constant distraction from prayer and she was filled with the desire to minister to other people but had "limitations". Crying while changing yet another dirty diaper she heard the Lord say (I paraphrase): "What you do for these little ones, you do for me. Clothe the naked, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty ..."

Entering into the Triduum prayerfully is important, but approaching these three sweet "distractions" with patience and joy is the means by which Christ wants me to experience Him. Yes, it was easy before we had kids to enter into prayer, and yes, it would be easier to create that quiet place in our souls if we'd arrange babysitting for the Mass (which, granted, finding a babysitter is never easy), but the Lord has a still better way. The Lord has chosen this "noisy" path for our purification in our calling as parents. It is, by far, more difficult, but we were never promised easy. If it's easy, I'm not doing it right. This is the lesson of the Cross. The struggle is not only to accept it but to accept it joyfully and patiently.

So, a few hours from now in church, when the baby starts pulling his sister's hair, Lord, please let me open his little hand extra gently. 

When my face flushes hot with frustration and embarrassment when my husband takes Charlie out for the third time, Lord, please create in me a thankful heart for my husband's dedication to the cause. 

When once again I correct Lucy for talking to every person within her three pew radius, Lord, please let my tone be firm yet my heart be soft.

And, most importantly, when I approach the altar to receive the Eucharist with hands full of children, Lord, please let my heart be full of thanksgiving for sending me a cross tailored especially for me. 

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