This Lent, I’m asking to be given the grace of detachment, to let go and let God, especially in times of heartache, turmoil, and disappointment. The grace to not hold things so closely that they replace God as the focal point of my life.
By Theresa Nixon
24 February 2020
Each Lent I struggle to know what to give up, what would be the most challenging sacrifice to give to Our Lord. When I was a child, it was simply a matter of giving up chocolate, or ice cream, or some such treat to fulfill the customary practice of giving up something in sacrifice for Lent. As an adult, I’ve tried to fast more (something that is very difficult for me), or to refrain from eating meat on days other than those of obligation. I’ve striven to give up negative habits, such as overly criticizing or finding fault, that hopefully exceed the 40 days of Lent. But this seems so trite. As the psalm says:
Sacrifice gives you no pleasure, were I to offer holocaust, you would not have it.Psalm 51:16
Over the past year, I’ve been trying to pray more, especially in times of heartache, turmoil, and disappointment; for the grace to have more faith and to leave everything up to God’s will. But, aside from praying the Rosary daily, the repetitiveness of formula prayers has always been difficult for me, leaving me to wonder sometimes if such prayers are really efficacious.
As I was going through my papers the other day, I came across an old prayer card to St. Joseph. I had made a Novena about six years before asking for the saint’s intercession regarding my petitions. As was my habit, I wrote each intention in the outer margins of the prayer card along with the date of the Novena. At the time, I was feeling a bit downhearted, wondering if prayers were even actually heard. Tears filled my eyes as I read each intention scrawled on the card as I realized that each and every one had been fulfilled almost exactly as I had asked they would be. I had specifically prayed for four separate intentions; each petition had been fulfilled within a few months of praying the Novena. In amazement, I realized just how powerful prayer really is.
I had specifically prayed for four separate intentions; each petition had been fulfilled within a few months of praying the Novena. In amazement, I realized just how powerful prayer really is.
Of course, not all intentions are answered; at least, not necessarily the way we would like them to be answered at the time we pray for them. Some can take years before an answer materializes. And we may not understand why a particular prayer isn’t answered the way we’d like it to be. But this is where faith comes in. Some petitions we pray for may not be good for us, and we can only realize this as life unfolds throughout the years. For example, I prayed and prayed for a particular intention, desperate for a positive answer; but it didn’t happen. At least, not the way I had hoped for at the time. But as time went on, I had a change of heart about that intention and I was grateful that I didn’t receive the answer I had initially prayed for, as it would’ve turned out disastrously if I had. Gradually, I began to change the way I prayed and asked for guidance and an acceptance that God’s will be done. This, of course, wasn’t easy because I was certain at times that what I asked God for was absolutely right for me and I would have to check myself, especially when things did not come to the fruition I had hoped.
So this Lent, I’m asking to be given the grace of detachment, to let go and let God, especially in times of heartache, turmoil, and disappointment. The grace to not hold things so closely that they replace God as the focal point of my life. And I’m learning to give God something more:
My sacrifice is this broken spirit, you will not scorn this crushed and broken heart.Psalm 51:17
My name is Theresa Nixon. I was born and raised in San Diego, California, into a large, Catholic family and now reside in the DC area. I began a writing career in the 1980s as a music reviewer for Music Connection magazine and spent over ten years working in the entertainment industry before realizing that my life was disconnected. I realized I needed to return to my Catholic roots and the faith of my childhood. I have a Master’s in Management from The Catholic University of America, and hope to complete my book this year on my memoirs as a child growing up Catholic in a large, working class family.