Car rides are hard with ten children. There is almost always a mess. There is almost always a disagreement about seating arrangements, and fights in the back row of the 12 passenger van cannot be easily mitigated without dramatic over the top gestures like stopping the car. My favorite tactics to maintain peace on the road include the radio, prayer, and the captive audience lecture. Today, I was trying the third and attempting to help the middle children (ages 13, 10 and 8) with their Lenten resolutions. One daughter complained (she’d decided to initiate a daily exercise regimen) that it was hard.
I told her she could do it.
She asked how.
“Every day, ask God to help you become a saint.” I explained. “Now it can be a scary prayer.” I started.
“Mom? Why is it scary?”
Everyone got quiet. Even the seven and five year old were now listening. I was caught up short. It shouldn’t be scary. It shouldn’t be something to be feared. I’d been counseling them not so subtly, to fear the Lord for all the wrong reasons. “You know what? You’re right. It isn’t scary. It’s just, sometimes we have a hard time asking God to give us the grace we need to get through our daily trials.” Everyone seemed satisfied with the answer and we drifted onto other topics, snack, homework, a different snack, errands, what’s for dessert, can I have this snack and what’s for dinner? But I kept coming back to the fiery question in my head, “What would the world look like if every day, every one of us asked God to help us become saints?”
One thing I was certain of, the world would become far less scary.
For me, the road block is the need to embrace the cross. Thus far in this Lent, I’ve proven poor at fasting. I know it is designed to teach me to not be controlled by my appetites; it is a physical illustration of devotion to our Crucified Lord. I also know when food is around, I eat it, and as the primary cook/provider of all things edible (see the conversation about the snacks, snacks and more snacks), the temptation is not of one apple tree, but a whole orchard full of foods. I get cranky without food, and I have no health reasons other than I\’m peevish if I don\’t eat. They too, were ruled by their bellies, but they had the excuse of being children, and of having a parent model the impossibility of restraint.
Being a vain soul, I sought to justify myself. It’s as if to participate in the crucifixion, I can only manage one splinter at a time. Then I thought, man do I complain about the splinter. And I heard my own words to my daughter, “Every day ask God to help you become a saint.” And the bonus reminder in my own head, “Be not afraid.”
So starting today, I’ll be asking. I’m also going to bring along a bag of apples to keep the peace, and maybe these souls that have been entrusted to me, can give me some tips on fasting so I can take on bigger splinters.
© 2013. Sherry Antonetti. All Rights Reserved.