Five years as Catholic, Easter #6, and Pregnant Lenten Thoughts

This past Sunday marked my 5th year as a Catholic and 6th Easter vigil and holy week.  Kind of a big milestone “anniversary” so to speak.  Not that every vigil is incredibly emotional for me because of that or anything, but it was nice to mark the time of a great thing.  What’s a little crazier is to remember the circumstances where I spent each one:

1st Easter I became Catholic – 2007:  Spent it in Texas at the parish I went to RCIA at.  The future in-laws all came out for my big day, which was really sweet of them.  My parents and little brother also came, which was probably even more meaningful for me that they chose to support me, even if they had a billion questions.  Family is the most important and I felt it that day from them, despite their bewildered looks and confusion during/after the vigil (any non-Catholic that makes it through the vigil deserves a million high fives!).  Within just the week before I had three people close to me die, which was unusual for this young girl who up until then even had all 4 grandparents living and healthy.  I realized then that becoming Catholic didn’t mean I would be immune from bad things happening, I’d just be better equipped to deal with them.

2nd Easter – 2008:  We were engaged by this point, set to marry in the Fall.  We went out to California for Easter and spent the day at the horse races with Mike’s family.  Tried to decide how I felt about that, discussed the morality of celebrating Easter that way, and decided I didn’t feel good about it.  Wondered if it was really different than how my family buys each other bingo lottery tickets at Christmas.  Either way, surely we wouldn’t be doing that when we had children in tow.

3rd Easter – 2009:  We drove to Easter in Austin, I believe.  This was low key and I’m pretty sure we went to Mass by ourselves and came home to an awesome homemade brunch.  Nothing like home cooked breakfast from your mom.   

4th Easter – 2010:  Spent it in Houston.  I remember having the worst ovulation pain of my life right smack dab during the middle of Good Friday service.  Up down, up down, it was excruciating.  I preferred to stay kneeling because it hurt so bad to stand and stretch out my stomach.  I remember wondering if all that pain meant I was ovulating the best egg ever and that we’d have ourselves a little Easter miracle.  It was nice to celebrate at the same parish that I was confirmed at.

5th Easter – 2011:  We spent it in Mexico.  Mike’s sister was visiting on Good Friday and we went to the Cathedral in the zocalo for the service.  Well, what we thought was a service.  It turned out to be this massive reading/singing/reflection service that none of us had ever heard of before.  We must have stayed there at least 2.5 hours before we finally got the courage to admit we had no idea what was going on and left.  At least we got some good meditation in and listened to a really nice boys choir :)  I’m still curious if communion ever even happened that day!  Apparently our Spanish wasn’t as good as we claim…ahem… We spent the actual Easter service in Puebla as the start of our crazy Mexican bus-vacation-tour.  Just the two of us, and it was really nice after a hectic semester finishing out school.

6th Easter – 2012:  We spent it at our community church here in California, watching members of our RCIA class get baptized and confirmed (although our confirmandi will actually have a separate service in two more weeks) and with Mike’s family.  The services are all bilingual with absolutely no rushing, so it makes for even longer services!  The baby danced to all the music on Holy Thursday, I think it especially loved all those bells and Spanish guitar.  On Good Friday during the special prayers I go up down, up down, belly grazing the pew in front of me, remembering how just two years ago I felt the worst ovulation pain I’d ever felt and now it was my bouncing belly getting in the way.  Pretty miraculous. 

I wonder what next year’s service will be like.  I can only imagine!

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I’d been meaning to write all Lent about what it was like to go through Lent now pregnant, with a due date just shortly after Easter.  It seemed like all last fall I kept staring at a calendar in my cubicle saying, first Lent, then Easter, then a baby!  And in a way, just as not getting pregnant every month feels very similarly to marking and grieving a death, getting pregnant after all that is a little like celebrating a miraculous resurrection of someone you thought you’d never meet. 

It was easier to get into the contemplative spirit when I was facing that same burden and barrenness of the desert in my own life.  But now in the time of plenty, how would I react?  I’m not naive enough (anymore) to think that I’ll never face a hard phase again, although I don’t believe it will ever be quite the same.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that the newborn phase is extremely physically demanding in a way I’ve never experienced.  I wondered if I would do this Lent “poorly”, and I probably did. I didn’t participate in prayer buddies this Lent, I guess the idea of splitting up the “infertiles” and “mothers and others” was understandable, especially since I was one that voiced dissent when I had a mom blog to visit and to pray for as an “infertile”, but it felt equally odd to have my prayers for them excluded.  For simplicity’s sake I understand it but, oh well.  I guess I consider the prayers of the holy the most powerful, not necessarily those who are going through the same life circumstances as me.  (Not that I am holy, just as a matter of perspective).  So I just continued to keep praying for my list of infertile friends and blog acquaintances.  I had wanted to go to daily mass every day but pretty much only made it once a week :(  Getting up for 6:30am mass became really hard this last trimester when I wasn’t going to bed at 8:30pm anymore.  I don’t really have any excuses other than maybe taking care of my growing baby by eating healthy was a sacrifice?  Either way, it wasn’t really an intentional thing I set out to do as a sacrifice at the beginning of Lent, so I don’t think it “counts”.  I think its hard to see myself not have the same discipline in things that I used to be good at (like fasting and Lenten promises in general) so I guess if anything this was a good reminder that those things don’t “just happen” but only through concentrated prayer it is possible to do those things.  And sometimes, maybe you just have to know your limits.  I’m sure this will be a good lesson for a new mom to learn.  I am weak when I am lazy or when I think I can do it all by myself!      

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All I could think about this past Holy Week was love.  Immense love did all of this, changed the world, and gave us a reason to LIVE joyously, and how amazing is that!?  How amazing is a religion that calls the day its founder, its GOD, died, good?  And it was, Good Friday.  How amazing that without any of the sacrifice and love that brought Jesus to the cross that I would have any idea what it was like to long for the good of having a child, to love my husband, to laugh with my family, and on and on.  Literally none of it would be, would mean anything, with out that love.  It is always enough to bask in. 

Sorry this was so mumble-ly.  But its either write posts like this or neglect the blog forever, which has basically been happening anyway.  I hope everyone had a great Easter and welcome back to all those that spent Lent away!

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5 thoughts on “Five years as Catholic, Easter #6, and Pregnant Lenten Thoughts

  1. I don’t think it’s bad that you don’t “feel” Lent in quite the same way pregnant as you did when going through infertility. We go through seasons of life, and I think the liturgical seasons reflect that as well. It was interesting to read your last several years of Easters! I have got to hand it to your family that was willing to come to the Easter Vigil Mass when they didn’t completely know what was going on. I got smoked out of this year’s. That’s never happened to me before! Usually I’m fine with incense, but I had to leave early.

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one that had a bit of a problem with the prayer buddy split up. I felt like the odd duck out getting to be only with the mothers/expectant mothers. I didn’t think it was wrong or a bad thing to do, but I just couldn’t quite do it.

  2. Congratulations on five years! And your second to last paragraph is simply amazing. Sometimes mumble-ly ends up to be the wisest of all.

    I loved reading your Easter history. And is it horrible that the part of this post that jumped out most to me (well, other than aspects that I’m not allowed to comment on other than to say “good for you!” which would seem odd) ehem, the part that jumped out most was your references to “up down, up down” and the solemn intersessions on Good Friday?

    I don’t remember how many parishes I’ve been in for Good Friday liturgy but I had completely forgotten ever alternating kneeling and standing for the solemn intersessions. I had previously thought that kneeling was the worst thing for me with cramps, but this made it clear that the motion of moving in and out of kneeling is by far the worst so I just stayed on my knees. Anyway, it seems like you had a much better attitude than I did, so that is good. For a few minutes I was so grouchy I thought I wasn’t going to be able to receive communion.

  3. Well, I liked your rambly post. :) I kept praying for a desire for holiness/love of God even in good times during my Lent… I did not want to “leave” God once I hit a happy phase of life even though it’s tempting to get distracted. I don’t think this Lent “felt” as deep as others – and I certainly wasn’t the model of perfect Lenten devotion – but I kept reminding myself that any effort, even if it doesn’t “feel” special/sad/as deep, has merit.

    Also, Lenten prayer buddies was a tough one for me too. I guess I didn’t realize people felt uncomfortable enough to want to split the list, and I felt weird about it because the precise issue that I was struggling with was that I didn’t WANT there to be a divide. It was a non-issue though since my blog, which is neglected too haha, is now private, and so I refrain from signing up to prayer buddies anyway.

  4. I tend to agree with you about Lent. I felt kinda the same way about it, and I think you’re right…when you’re carrying such a heavy cross like IF, Lent really resounds because it helps you link your cross to Christ’s. But Lent is about more than just crosses–it’s a reminder that the cross leads to the joy of resurrection. You really summed it up well with the last paragraph about the love of Holy Week.

  5. Congrats on your 5th year as a Catholic! I never knew you hadn’t always been. Like you said, this was a different Lent for me too, I felt like. But I guess there is no right or wrong way to feel, either. :-)

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