A few years ago, my Lent began in an unfamiliar house, face-to-face with a woman who was living my nightmare.
On Epiphany that year, my sister-in-law faced a horror I still can’t imagine, one that topped her list of sorrows and that changed my prayer life forever.
When her husband, my brother-in-law, died suddenly and unexpectedly, it felt like Lent had already begun in January. In fact, it felt a lot like Good Friday, stretched out over weeks.
And then I went to Mardi Gras, that grand celebration before the official start of Lent.
At the parade where her husband should have been, I saw the crack in her “I’m fine” façade and my heart broke again. During the Ash Wednesday service, I felt the pang of “To dust you shall return” as I never had before. In my early morning prayer sessions and the evening chaos at her house, I felt Mary’s hand in mine.
She’s not a distant figure from two thousand years ago. She’s not a woman on a pedestal in my parish church. She’s not an image of perfection that’s impossible to attain.
To read more about how spending that Lent with Mary changed my prayer life, along with four tips for how you can spend Lent with her, read my latest at Catholic Exchange.