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Two Holy Guides for When Lent Doesn’t Go as Planned

Lent is a beautiful opportunity each year to enter into deeper prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These practices should lead us to greater repentance and conversion. There is a stripping away of our sins and worldliness when we dedicate ourselves more seriously to the spiritual life.  What many of us find as we progress through Lent, however, is that God has other plans for us than our own. It may turn out that our willed penances may have to give way to a deeper unwilled suffering, which if endured in union with Christ Crucified will produce even greater fruit in our souls. This has been the lesson for me during what has already been a rather long Lent and Christ used two holy souls to show me the way.

On Ash Wednesday, my husband grew very weak for reasons we didn’t understand at the time. After what we thought was a normal cold, his energy began to weaken over the course of a few weeks. By the time we drove 2 hours away to my godson’s baptism on the Monday before Ash Wednesday, he was too tired to drive, which is abnormal. At the baptism itself, I noticed at one point that he went to sit in a chair off to the side. He was there to support me and our friends since the godfather is a priest.

As he sat in the corner, the priest who celebrated the baptism sat next to him afterwards, and seeing how sick he was, gave him Anointing of the Sick. My husband knew something was seriously wrong because even when he was sickest with his rare autoimmune lung disease, Wegener’s Granulomatosis (GPA) he never felt as weak as he did that week. By Ash Wednesday, I stood over him with growing concern as he tried weakly to eat a McDonald’s fish filet sandwich and could barely finish a few bites. He had no appetite and dropped 15 pounds in two weeks.

It was providential that he received Anointing of the Sick because we found out two days later that one of his immunosuppression drugs started suppressing the creation of new white blood cells in his body. His white cell count dropped to a critically low 2 and he was high risk for infection and illness. We also discovered two days later after I brought him Holy Communion from Sunday Mass that he had a fever and needed to go to the hospital. He was admitted for a couple of days for what his pulmonologist believed to be viral pneumonia, which is particular dangerous for severely immunocompromised patients.

Thus, our Lent began with intense unexpected and unwilled suffering. The penances we all agreed to in the beginning gave way to reality as we dealt with sleepless nights in the hospital and multiple weeks of him needing to rest and work from home because he wasn’t strong enough to drive or make it more than a couple of hours without needing a nap. Thanks to the miracle drug, but double-edged sword of prednisone—a drug that induces Hulk-like tendencies in those on it—he began to feel better and was able to finally return to week on Monday of this week.

Read more at Catholic Exchange 

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