Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Everyday Grace:
Lent: Becoming your best self

by Mary Cronk Farrell

(From the March 1, 2007 edition of the Inland Register)

Mary Cronk Farrell It was no surprise when my college-aged son told us recently heíd lined up a summer internship in the field of computer programming. In my mindís eye I can clearly see his three-year-old face turning away from the keyboard of our first computer to say, ďMommy, when I grow up, Iím gonna be a íputer man.Ē

For some of us, itís more difficult to know where our gifts lie and how to use them. Even those talents that show up early can take a lifetime of honing. Not until middle-age do we begin to understand what they require of us and what we have to offer the world.

Recently a parent e-mailed me on this topic: ďÖsomething Iíve been struggling with; how do you steer your kids to find what they love?†Or can you?†I guess Iím hitting my mid-life crisis.†I hate my job, but canít afford to quit. I wish I were working at something meaningful.

ďI know my personal answer is accepting this wonderful blessing I have (great pay, benefits, lots of time off) and rejoice that I have it so good.†But if I had to do it over, I think Iíd accept less money for more meaning.†So how do you help your kids find that balance?Ē

Iíve put off answering this e-mail, partly because the reason Iím able to pursue my writing career is that my husband has a good job that supports our family. On the other hand, parentsí attitudes and actions strongly influence their childrenís ability to know and follow their God-given inclinations.

One way we can look at the Lenten season is as a time to examine our God-gifted potential more closely and how I might move toward living it more fully.

How might the disciplines of Lent aid us and our children on this venture?

Prayer: Familiar mealtime prayers, bedtime prayers and praying together as a community at Mass come more easily than prayer of the heart experienced as sheer wonder. However, young children come by this quite naturally and we can learn from them.

This prayer is not something we do; rather, it is something beyond ourselves that grasps and graces us. We allow space for it to arrive in our lives by taking time to encounter the still, small voice of God within. This is the voice that leads us to understand and develop our gifts. We give it power to move us when we let go of our need to control.

Fasting: Consider fasting from eyes that donít see and ears that donít hear as we rush through a hectic daily routine. Take time for continuing reflection on what distracts us from being present moment to moment. Look for the fresh face in an old and easily taken-for-granted relationship. Feel the grief of a disappointment weíve been denying. Watch how keeping busy staves off our fear of failure, of growing old, of death. This, too, is something young children model for us, this acceptance of life as it is, with no pretenses.

Almsgiving: Our faith demands charity, sharing what we have with those in need. It also calls us beyond charity, to create families and communities where the unique gifts of all are nourished, supported and called forth so that all might truly give of themselves. To recognize gifts in our children and others requires freedom from the bindings that ensnare our own minds and hearts. To nourish those gifts takes a willingness to acknowledge the unknown as well as to affirm the known. To invite the gifts of others is also to step forth with confidence in our own gifts.

The traditional disciplines of Lent are road signs on our journey toward living our giftedness more fully, a journey of inward exploration that bears fruit in outward expression. In knowing and honoring our own deepest desires we teach our children to do the same.

© 2007, Mary Cronk Farrell

(Mary Cronk Farrell is a Spokane free-lance and childrenís writer. Her latest book, Celebrating Faith: Year-Round Activities for Catholic Families, has been published by St. Anthony Messenger Press. Contact her at

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