I was so very fortunate this past weekend to attend a women’s retreat up at Maria Stein. I had the extra privilege of going with my sister. Having two hours of time to sit and talk with her in the car ride up, and two more hours on the ride home was a huge bonus. Therese slept the whole ride up and the whole ride home, so Jes and I were really able to chew the fat. (Babies were welcome to attend and Therese was a jewel the whole time.) What a blessing the entire experience was!
When it was all said and done, I was gone from home only about 30 hours, however, in that time out of my ordinary life I was able to reflect, receive spiritual guidance, be reminded of what I am called to be as a mother and wife, and be fortified for that vocation. This time away gave me the much needed opportunity to take a look at my life and see those areas I needed to work on. Since my mind was not occupied with a thousand things to do, I was able to look at problems area through a different lense and see more clearly possible solutions. It left me invigorated to return to my family and love more perfectly than I did when I left. I pray and hope I am able to return next year!
We are about to embark on another Lenten journey this Wednesday. Lent allows us this time out from the ordinary. It is a special time set aside in the year to reflect on our lives and crosses. It is a time to not only discipline our bodily passions through fasting and mortifications, but to grow in our faith through additional acts of charity and prayer. It is a special time set aside to journey with Christ to Jerusalem for his Passion and set our lives in order so that we too may go to our Father having given it all as Christ did.
It is far too easy in our world, in our busy lives, to brush aside this gift. The Easter candy and stuffed animals are already out, and Palm Sunday hasn’t even arrived! What is Easter without the suffering and death of our Lord? We must experience the Cross to truly appreciate the Resurrection.
My dear husband was sharing with our children an article he had read about how to make Lent a time of spiritual growth and reflection. I wanted to share these three simple suggestions with you. They encourage you to write out what your are going to do in each of these three areas. I am putting these out pretty much verbatim.
Voluntary Amendment of Life: Give up those things that need to go sooner or later, namely bad habits. Our goal here is to learn to love our souls more than our bodies. To break a bad habit forever.
Acts of Penance: Perform some kind of penance. Our goal here is to train ourselves to say “no” in little things so that we can say “NO” to big temptations later. Of course we can resume whatever we give up after Lent.
Work of Charity: Perform some good and holy action(s). Our goal here is to strengthen our relationship with Christ and His Church. Ideally, what we start here would continue in some way once Lent is over. Love God more than yourself!
These seem to me to be three fairly straight forward, doable steps that the entire family can participate in. Each family member can have their own personal goals. You can follow this link
and print out the form if you like, and have all your family members decide what they are going to do. Of course, you don’t have to print it out, but it may make it seem more formal.
I can assure you the Hilgeforts are all in! I will be the first to admit there is much polishing needed to be done on my rough heart.
Please keep the Hilgefort family in your prayers that we can take this time out during Lent to journey with Christ and grow in personal holiness. We will be keeping you in our prayers that you may do the same. A family that has grown to love, forgive, and serve each other more fully is better than ANY chocolate Easter bunny! JMJ