Giving Up Nastiness for Lent

I don’t know about you, but for me Lent has been all downhill since Ash Wednesday. It began so well, with a nice little burst of fervour as we chomped through our dry bread for breakfast; continued as we said the Office, remembering to omit ‘alleluia’, and probably reached its peak as we sat down to vegetable soup in the evening with that cold, hollow feeling that only a fast of the Universal Church can induce. Then came Ash Thursday. And with Ash Thursday came chemotherapy and its side-effects, from which I am only just beginning to emerge, as moody and morose as it is possible to be. But, alas, with Ash Thursday came the news that all the electrical work we had done a couple of years ago had failed its mandatory Five Year Electrical Check and has to be done again. Then, on Ash Friday, we awoke to discover that one of the reglazed panes of glass in the haywain had cracked to smithereens and had to be replaced. I barely dare look at the dog, for fear of discovering that he is in need of urgent medical attention, and I haven’t yet ventured into the garden, just in case.

The net result of all this is that fervour has taken a nosedive. Lent begins to look immensely long. My Lent Bill, which looked so embarrassingly modest before I began, now seems almost impossible of attainment. Truly, the penances the Lord ‘chooses’ for us are much more effective than any we choose for ourselves. I was musing on this earlier today and realised that, as often happens, I had missed the obvious. While I have been scratchy and irritable and even slightly peeved that I have not been able to set out on my programme of Lenten penances (note the egotism there), I have been failing to make the most of the opportunities offered by the events of everyday. I very much doubt whether I’ll ever be reconciled to the nausea and tiredness my treatment brings; but I could try being nicer to those around me. I very much doubt whether I’ll ever rejoice at having to spend more money on work I thought we had already had satisfactorily completed; but I could try not to grumble about it quite so much. In short, whatever happens, there is one thing I can always do. I can give up nastiness for Lent.


25 thoughts on “Giving Up Nastiness for Lent”

  1. Just wondering if the work was so recent, was there any sort of warranty on it? Surely the contractor who did it and signed it off is liable? That’s not being nasty, its just a tupractical response to unexpected expense.

    As for Lent penances, I am tired from three days virtually continuous travel and training, not getting home until past 10 PM, this makes me wonder if the vocation to what I am doing is some sort of penance sent to try me?

    But I really love what I am doing. Studying both Leading Public Worship and Chaplaincy at the same time is hard, particularly as training days, follow one another. And more to come, along with a Chaplaincy placement with the Kent Workplace Mission – that will be a great privilege.

    • A good point, Ernie, but we haven’t the energy to start a protracted battle with contractors (in the case of the electrical work, a sole trader who lives locally) and, in any case, have to get it all sorted out as quickly as possible for safety reasons. In the case of the glass, as this is a timber-framed building, it is quite possible the frame has settled and put extra stress on that one panel. Prayers for your strength as you do your chaplaincy placement.

  2. May I ask respectfully (please forgive me if it sounds impertinent) but does the Rule require you to keep the full Lenten fast if your health is impaired? I have always visualised St Benedict as the best sort of Commanding Officer: strict but not inflexible, with a deep concern for the welfare of his “troops”.

  3. Dear Grumpy, What Searing honesty! I am not sure we are required to rejoice AT very trying circumstances, but to find things to rejoice at whilst in them. That seems different. I don’t see anything to rejoice at when retiring needs redoing, but outside, when you have the energy, the snowdrops have fought their way through again to bless us, and give us cause to rejoice. Maybe the joy of small things helps with grumpiness….
    we will keep praying for you all, with gratitude

  4. With that week you have every right to complain.Now things should be looking up.Stay well you two and eat something decadent.I wish you could come back to Connecticut for a visit.

  5. I think it is far better to own our nastiness. I discovered, this week, that persistent negative and cruel thoughts that I have been having, which shocked me, cannot be offered to God or laid at the foot of the cross until I had properly owned them. It is in the owning that the roots of sin are exposed, not in the casting off or distancing sin from ourselves.

    • I agree that honesty is always a good thing, but I think I would be a little less severe than you are. Every day, at Compline, we go over the thoughts and actions of the day and bring them to God for healing and transformation. That includes those we haven’t yet got a handle on, so to say, because we are relying on God’s grace, not our own strength.

  6. Dear Sister Catherine,
    I never cease to be amazed by your insights,your honesty and your beautiful ‘human-ness. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you share and teach us.
    With my love and prayers,

  7. I am sorry to hear your health/treatment are causing you more suffering. This will certainly make everything seem a lot darker and harder to bear. Hope that feeling lifts soon. Nastiness does find its way in through small chinks in our armour. I pray it does not find too many ways in, in my life – all too easy to mis the warning signs.

    By the way you were right about Lent book – Ezekiel is not for the faint hearted. It is certainly challenging me – but thanks as I suppose that is the point…

  8. Thank you for sharing your insights, even when in trying times, with us. You are teaching us how to observe Lent on a deeper, more meaningful level—in the moment and everyday.

    Thank you to all who have added their thoughts and comments, which are also meaningful.

    Keeping you and Dame Lucy and Bro. Dyfrig, and the workers who will do the repairs, in my prayers.


  9. Thank you. Your honesty here is most helpful and similar to my own Lent experience so far. Illness and other adversities have triggered all my worst qualities. There ain’t no hiding from them and so ‘the penance the Lord chooses for us’ is a most helpful way of entering into it. Hope you feel better soon. God Bless.

  10. Great post.

    What a lot to sort out! Things that are unwelcome like smashed already repaired wires and windows do seem to pop up when we least expect or want them.

    I hope that these get fixed without too much stress and bother.

    Thanks and take good care

  11. I will ask for the intercession of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine and the Souls of Purgatory so you may heal completely for the glory of God. Also so that all good souls with extra economic benefits may pour their blessings into your convent so that you don’t have to worry about any bill. Our Lord is good and generous and He will provide….. Blessed be the name of Jesus!!! 🙂

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