As we get closer to halfway through Lent and the fancily named Laetare Sunday, here are 3 things to remember to keep you spiritually hydrated for the Iditarod that is your Lenten observance.

1. You’ve Probably Messed Up.

Yep. Admit it. You gave up turning the radio on but Monday morning needed an 80s power ballad just to get you to the front door of the office. You didn’t pray your rosary during the commute and instead ironically rocked out to “Livin’ on a Prayer”. At this point in the Lenten journey, one or more repeated violations of what you specifically said you wouldn’t do has brought about a compete flush of the whole endeavor.

As it turns out, you’re not alone. Even the holiest of saints struggled with penance and virtuous living. St. Josemaria Escrivá reminds us: “To defend his purity, St. Francis of Assisi rolled in the snow, St. Benedict threw himself into a thorn bush, St. Bernard plunged into an icy pond…”

If they had to take drastic measures to deal with their own weaknesses, we’ve also got to admit that we’re weak too and can easily get tired of doing the things we said we were going to do. But we’ve also got to be courageous!

2. You Can Respawn.

We now know that, at the end of his life, Pope St. John Paul II was an extremely frequent visitor to The Sacrament of Reconciliation. “Why?!,” you might ask, would a man so obviously holy need to bring a priest in nearly every week to hear his confession? It wasn’t because he piled on the mortal sins, but because he was able to see how even his small sins offended the heart of Jesus. That is a beautiful (if a little frightening) gift, and the much-beloved pope of happy memory availed himself of a spiritual reboot that Jesus is only too willing to offer.

If you’ve been struck by the wound of messing up your lenten observance — doing that thing you said you were going to give up — then take a free tip from the newly sainted pope above: get to confession, say you’re sorry, and pick up the cross again.

Sacramentally, Jesus not only forgives the sin, but he gives the grace to continue right where we left off, like the last Skylanders save point if you’ll pardon the video game parlance. Further, in the grace that Jesus gives post confession, we’ve actually got the Holy Spirit’s help to “level up” in virtue when met with the same temptations to fall away. Use the important tools found in The Sacraments of The Church!

3. It’s A Marathon.

The Way of the Cross is an awesome meditation during Lent for several reasons:

  • It’s a kind of condensed Lenten timeline in 14 movements.
  • It reminds us of the high times, even in the midst of carrying the cross (remember Jesus meeting and being consoled His Holy Mom and Simeon sharing his shoulder with The Lord).
  • But It’s also a reminder that carrying the cross IS HARD! Jesus fell three times under its weight. He shows us that even the flesh of the Son of God experienced exhaustion and the mind of The Lord knew extreme fatigue.
  • He kept going – for us.

It’s the same with us! Our personal way of the cross during Lent is a long race, not a sprint. It’s meant to be that way so that our weak flesh (and hopefully willing spirit) can learn to be obedient to God and not just to our sin-inclined appetites.

So, if you’ve lost hope for Lent 2015, stop and smell the rose vestments at Mass this weekend and start week 4 with a renewed resolve and accompanying 80s fist pump…maybe just leave Bon Jovi for Ordinary Time.