To those who gave up chocolate for Lent, but ate it every day

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One of my favorite parts of being a summer missionary was introducing my students to Ignatian meditation, a form of prayer which uses the imagination to enter into scripture.

Twenty third-graders would lie down on the classroom floor, close their eyes, and — usually — listen as I asked them to imagine themselves in different Bible stories. After we finished, my students would share what they saw or heard during prayer.

I always had a handful of students like the girl who imagined Jesus as a living sculpture made out of chocolate, or the girl who saw Baby Yoda next to her in every Bible story. But some of the most profound experiences in my own heart took place listening to the way the Lord pursued these children in prayer.

One of the Bible stories we prayed with was Jesus washing His disciples’ feet in John 13. After prayer, I asked my students what it was like when Jesus washed their feet. Typical answers were, “I felt so loved,” or, “He looked so happy.”

But one week, my question shocked a student. 

“Miss Larisa, I washed Jesus’ feet! I would never let Him wash my feet. That is my Lord and Savior, He does not wash my feet!”

I gently explained to her that Jesus wanted to wash her feet because He loved her and because it brought Him joy to take care of her. But she wouldn’t budge. Jesus did not serve her.

In that moment, I saw myself so clearly in that little girl who was so insistent on taking care of herself. She was right that she didn’t deserve for Jesus to serve her. But it doesn’t change the fact that He washed His disciples’ feet all the same.

As we finish Lent, it’s easy to feel utterly undeserving of the mystery of the Triduum.

Tomorrow night begins the pinnacle of what C.S. Lewis calls “The Great Dance.” Every fear, hope, tremor, and joy of the human soul is concentrated in the Triduum, in which we enter into the mysteries of Christ’s sacrifice.

On Holy Thursday, we see the institution of the priesthood and receive heaven’s kiss in the Eucharist. We hold Jesus’ hand in the garden and see that He knows our every suffering. 

On Friday, we stare at the lifeless body of the God we killed. On Saturday, we sit outside the tomb, perhaps unaware that Hell is being harrowed beneath our feet.

This is the gift that Christ pours out on His Bride over the next few days. The Triduum is a participation in Christ’s life and an invitation to divine intimacy that none of us deserve.

Even though none of us deserve this gift, the worst thing we can do is hold back because we feel unprepared.

I don’t think I’m the only one whose Lent looked far different from the plan I meticulously wrote in my journal on Shrove Tuesday. Maybe you tried so hard, but failed so many times. Maybe you didn’t try at all and the crab cakes in the Cafeteria were the only thing to make you realize it was Lent. 

Regardless of how this Lent went, let Him wash your feet.

Let Him sit before you and see all the filth — there is still time for Confession before Easter! Even if you have been holding back over the last few weeks, months, or years, drink deeply of the liturgy.

The Triduum is Christ’s eternal cry to every soul that they are inexpressibly loved by a God who suffocated to death for them. The nails bored into His wrists, and His heart bursting apart are the definitive statements that we are not our sin, brokenness, addiction, or heartache. 

We are not our failed Lent, relationship or GPA. We are “loved in spite of ourselves,” as Victor Hugo writes.

Even now, Jesus is kneeling with a towel around His waist. This Triduum, He wants to wash your feet. Please give Him that joy.

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