Catholic Spirituality,  feast days,  liturgical living,  prayer

Let him wash your feet

Today Lent is over, but Easter has not yet arrived. We enter into the Triduum, the holiest part of the Christian year, the 3 day climax of the liturgical season that bridges the impossible gap between Lent and Easter, between humanity and divinity.

I am ill prepared.

Oh, the ingredients for the easter baskets are stuffed into grocery bags on a shelf in the garage. (Beef jerky, root beer, Peeps and tic tacs. Gonna find myself cast in an offseason reenactment of Home Alone any day now. also, #GF/DF problems) The outfits are accounted for and awaiting the 3.5 minutes of coordinated wear for pictures, tiny fedoras included. (Because my 1,4, and 6 year old boys are going to be delighted by the prospect of 3 matching fedoras?)

But I? I am not ready. I have kept Lent in fits and starts, one step forward and two steps back for these long – but short – 40 days. A flush of fervor and resolve to kick things off, then some derailing by general life circumstances, viral illnesses, real estate quandaries, stressors of various sorts personal and global, etc.

In the quiet of my heart and in the relative silence of a mini van without the radio turned on, I have felt Him speaking, heard His invitation: let me carry this.

And so I have. Some days for a stretch of a few hours, other days for a minute-by-minute tug of war.

God: I’ve got this.

Me: okaaaaay. Here. (10 minutes pass, grabs problem back for more ruminating and scheming)

God: …

Me: Oh, oops, okay here, take it again, please?

God: I’ve got this.

And so it goes. Over and over again. He never gets tired of taking it back, whatever “it” might be: an illness, a relational issue, a problem at work, a financial burden. And I, apparently, never get tired of snatching it up again.

Getting off my phone has helped tremendously in terms of opening up little pockets of solitude throughout the day where otherwise I’d normally be texting, tapping, scrolling, Voxing. And you know what? It’s uncomfortable as hell sometimes. I have become accustomed to taking my problems elsewhere – anywhere else, most of the time – before turning to God in a literal pile of melted drama and fatigue, crying out for a last resort kind of intervention. (And full disclosure, I’m still texting.)

So why not go to Him first?

Well, for one, I’m out of practice. Calling a friend or putting out an SOS on social media is way easier and more apparently effective than 20 minutes of meditative prayer or curling up with my Bible. It’s easier to call my mom than to pray a Rosary.

But, I’m finding it’s not nearly as effective, long term, to take every little cut and scrape and even the bigger, more concussive issues to mere mortals. Not because they can’t and won’t offer wise counsel and comfort and a little ray of hope in the dark tumult of whatever storm is presently encompassing me, but because a lot of the time, when I go to someone else before I go to Jesus, I forget to go to Him, period.

It’ll feel like I’ve “handled it,” the immediate crisis of emotion and feeling fading with relief at having gotten it off one’s chest, so to speak. But a lot of the time – maybe even most of the time – that won’t be the case at all. Nothing will have been handled. But the relief of having talked about it will lend the appearance of “handled” to whatever the situation may be.

God wants us to come to Him first. He longs to be our first line of defense against everything the world – and the Enemy – throws our way.

I’ve spent a lot of this Lent trying to wriggle away from His patient, quiet (so much more quiet than the noise and chaos of daily life) voice asking me over and over again to let Him help, to stay with Him for an hour. But I am stubborn and I am busy and I have responsibilities, Lord. You can understand, can’t You?

But He keeps asking.

Today, on this holy threshold of the holiest season, I want to answer Him fully. I want to look back on this Easter season and marvel at the peace, the stillness (internal stillness, mind you. Because 4 kids + Peeps) and the otherworldliness that marked our days.

Not because we traveled to Rome or Jerusalem and celebrated with the Holy Father or walked in Jesus’ actual footsteps.

Not because we will make it to every Mass or service the Church offers these next 3 days (all that is required is Easter Mass. She is a generous and patient mother. Maybe one day we’ll make it to every one of them.)

But because we stilled our hearts, closed our browsers (she writes on the internet), turned off our phones, looked away from the news, our fears, our biggest worries and deepest concerns, and sat with Him instead. The only one who can really fix any of it.

Because we let Him kneel in the dust and the chaos of our present condition, whatever burdens we may be carrying and whatever condition our hearts may be in, and we accepted His tender invitation to give it over. To take off our sandals and bare our humiliatingly dirty and calloused feet. To not worry about unshaven legs or unpolished toes or That Big Problem we can’t seem to get out from underneath, and we simply let Him bathe us.

Once Peter figured out the offer was more about God’s radical generosity and less about our own worthiness, he got onboard with the enviable enthusiasm only a holy sanguine can muster: “Then, Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Wash us, Jesus. Meet us here and kneel with us in our present misery and make us like you. We are at your mercy.

A blessed Triduum to you and yours. May it be nothing like you planned and exactly what He has in mind.

(photo credit: Plinio Lepri/AP)


  • Nancy S.

    From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your beautiful and open celebration of your Catholic faith. As my body fails me more and more (orthopedically) I am never more grateful for being Catholic. There is such comfort in our Church, and her sacramentals. We just need to reach out for the help – the hardestmthing to do when we are used to being superwomen and super Moms. About 12 years ago, I found the Chaplet of Divine Mercy on EWTN. There are two versions, a more dirge-like one Monday through Friday and a more joyful one on the weekends. While there are days I miss it, it has brought me great comfort regardless. Even though I prefer the weekend one, there is a close up of Our Lord’s face in the weekday one that is so beautiful it could bring you to tears. I am glad I found your blog. You bring light on my dark days because of your open faith. Thank you. Blessed Easter.

  • Brigitte

    Thank you! Many good reminders. I love to clutch my sorrows and worries. Sometimes I bring them out to get attention from others. Wow, you really called me out on this! May your Easter be peaceful.

  • Holly

    Oh Jenny, I love you. I did do Holy Thursday Mass tonight, alone with my 4 because my husband was working. My daughter was a terror. I am so embarrassed, not only by how poorly behaved she was but how mad I allowed it to make me. She’s 4, which is, as the song says, old enough to know better but still too young to care. My older 2 were good. This too shall pass. So why can’t I be kinder? Ugh ugh ugh. Thankful for Jesus who wants to wash my dirty and sinful feet and who comes to sinful me in the Eucharist. Thanks for writing, Jenny!

    • Jean

      Holly, as a grandma who also once upon a time had children whose behavior in church was sometimes dreadful, please be reassured that this too shall pass. She will only be little and loud for a finite amount of time. Bringing her to Mass is absolutely the right thing to do because Jesus’ love for all of us is infinite and she needs to be there with us. Children are the future of our Church and honestly, my husband and I would much rather sit next to noisy badly behaved children than to sit in an empty pew. Parents do the best they can to quieten their little ones and we oldsters appreciate the effort it takes for you to bring them.

  • Terri

    Oh, how I struggle with the practicality of longing to plop down in front of the Blessed Sacrament in all night vigil as a mama of 6. Husband is working the entire weekend so all the church liturgical festivities and baskets and hunt will fall on me. Again. And I just need to sit and soak up Him. Funny how we are encouraging our children to still themselves and be quiet to honor the sacrifice of the Lord and it’s so hard for us as moms.

    Praying for you as you continue the journey towards Easter.

  • Pat

    I just discovered your blog and am so glad I did! I was deeply moved by having my foot washed and then washing another person’s foot during Holy Thursday Mass. After a lifetime of being a Protestant, I joined the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil this year! Viewing Lent and the Triduum through Catholic glasses made this Easter season the most meaningful of my life.

    • Jean C

      Welcome to the Catholic Church, Pat! It takes a special kind of person to work with God’s grace and through the process of learning about our faith. May God continue to bless you abundantly through this Easter season and always.

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