My Lenten journey started out with such promise! In the first three days of Lent, I faithfully wrote out daily prayers and said one of my thrice-weekly Rosaries. My checklist was checked with the type of gusto usually reserved for large life events, like receiving job promotions, summiting tall mountains and celebrating substantial tax refunds.
Then, a couple nights ago, I decided I’d just do a watered-down Rosary and skip saying the mysteries. I was tired. I was probably hungry. I might have been a wee bit cranky. My biggest priority of the night was ensuring as few obstacles as possible existed between my head and the pillow.
My boyfriend stepped in. “You’re not going to pray the whole Rosary? You should pray the whole Rosary.”
I got real squinty-eyed at him as some very choice, very un-Christian words flashed through my head. In our family, we refer to mega-cranky behavior as wearing the cranky pants. At that moment the cranky pants were approaching floodwater status. There might have been some huffing, muttering and one particularly loud door slam, but the entire Rosary was said. Truly, one of the finest, most prayerful moments in my Lenten journey.
Why can something so beautiful and beneficial like the Rosary seem like such a chore? Lent would be much easier if I woke up each morning feeling excited to pray. Instead, I put it off until the bitter end of the day when all I want to do is sleep and perhaps bake late-night loaves of bread. (Because yeast-based bread at 10 p.m. is always a right choice.)
When I look back at other healthful changes I’ve made, though, they always start off feeling like chores. Fitting something new into routine is hard and too often I fall back on excuses on why I should continue with my old way of life. If I made it twenty-odd years without praying the Rosary, what are twenty-odd more? It’s difficult to get past these short-term inconveniences to see the long-term benefits.
Just like eating well and exercising frequently contribute to a healthy life, so does praying regularly. While I can’t promise to wake up filled with joy for early-morning prayer, I can promise to at least try to look for the long-term benefits of saying a regular Rosary.
And perhaps next week, I’ll even put away the cranky pants.