Here we are at the midpoint of our Lenten journey.  How has it been going?

Living our Catholic faith takes practice all the time. But when we trip or fall, true believers pick themselves up, dust themselves off and carry on where they left off. 

So it is with the holy season of Lent, that annual time of penance and grace the Church gives us. There are crosses and resurrections throughout these 40 days heading toward the commemoration of Christ’s own Cross and Resurrection. Perhaps we started off on Ash Wednesday with the very best of Lenten intentions and plans. And we may have stumbled on the way. But we shouldn’t give up on what we hoped and wanted to do for the Lord. 

Maybe we didn’t pray as much or with the intensity as we had planned.  Maybe we hedged a bit here and there on what we had pledged to ourselves to give up.  Maybe we didn’t give to others as we had promised ourselves that we would. Maybe we have been critical, harsh, or rude to others or engaged in gossip about them. Guess what? No one is perfect! The Christian life is about the long view as well as the short. Our goal as Catholics in the long and short term is to draw as close to Christ as humanly possible, to “practice the presence of God!” And when we veer off course, the Christian gets back in the race: Don’t give up! 

When Jesus entered Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday, it was all cheers and palms and “Hosannas.” That’s where Jesus started in Holy Week. By Holy Thursday, it was washing feet and sharing his Body and Blood in the Eucharist and then off to Gethsemane. By Good Friday, it was Calvary and the Cross and his Crucifixion. By Easter Sunday, it was triumph and Resurrection, the tomb was empty, and he had risen from the dead. That’s where he finished his Holy Week. And that’s where he began “the rest of the story!” For Christ and for all who follow him, it was and is worth the trip.

So, no matter where Lent has taken you this year, continue your holy resolve and, if you have hesitated or stumbled, be willing to pick yourself up and finish. Keep in mind the words of the late Pope Benedict XVI: “Lent stimulates us to let the Word of God penetrate our life and, in this way, to know the fundamental truth: who we are, where we come from, where we must go, what path we must take in life” (General Audience, March 1, 2006).    

And Jesus said to all of them, ‘If anyone would come after me, deny yourself, pick up your cross daily and follow me’” (Luke 9: 23). Stay in your lane. That’s the path he offers us to Easter!