Many people give up something during Lent. The Orthodox faithful give up all animal products. So, for weeks now, I should have been eating vegan. But I haven't been.
I start, but by dinner I end up eating whatever the rest of my family eats--my hubby is not Orthodox and is not observing the fast. The kids have trouble with it because they want to eat what Ken eats, too. There's also the foodstamps issue. It's already hard to feed my large family, and we can't really afford to buy two kinds of food. And to prepare both, if I had both, seems too hard for the chronic fatigue I feel. But these are just excuses really. I think if I really had the chuzpa, I could do it.
I'm not famous for pushing back the plate at this time in my life, and I feel horrible about my failure in this holy time. Just before the fast, the first week of the Lenten Triodian (three weeks before Great Lent begins), I sat in church and listened to Father Leo's homily about the publican and the sinner. (Okay, he didn't read from the Message, but you know me. I can't resist that book.)
Luke 18: 10-14
10"Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. 11The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: "Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people--robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. 12I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.'
13"Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, "God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.'"
14Jesus commented, "This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you're going to end up flat on your face, but if you're content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself." The MessageI'm failing lent, and I feel just like that sinner, slumped in shadows, hiding my face from God. And yet I need Him so badly that I just keep saying, 'forgive me' like its a mantra or a ceasless prayer. That seems to be my only contribution to Great Lent.
Last week I went to confession. It's recommended that one confess and receive absolution at least every few months, but a lot of people don't. I hadn't in a while because my car doesn't work and riding with someone I couldn't get there in time, but last week we were a wee bit early, and I was able to catch a few minutes with Father Leo.
Confession is a very different experience with a priest than when you confess just to God. It's humbling to say the least. Almost as soon as I began I just wept and wept. I always feel so unworthy. I don't really want to lose that feeling. I don't want to say how good I am--though I've been guilty of that, too. I just want to keep--must keep--asking for mercy.
I take comfort in the fact that the penitent went home made right with God, and again, I pray, Lord, have mercy on me a sinner. I'm glad that sweet Jesus, accepts my meager sacrifice because He is so good, and I am so needy.
I still have hope, however. Maybe I can still jump in and fast, and maybe all this has taught me to be humble when I do so. I don't know. I just want to do what's right, even though I can't do it, really. That's why I need mercy. May God give it.
Mair, the sinner.