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Lent and the Little Black Skirt

In the summer of 2009, my husband and I went to a family reunion. John’s aunt told a little story about her mother-in-law. I never met Grandma Bossert. She passed away long before I married into the family. But John’s Aunt Lucia said Grandma had a little straight skirt. She’d owned it for as long as Aunt Lucia could remember. Grandma used the skirt as a kind of measuring tape to monitor weight gain. When she couldn’t get the side zipper to zip, she would cut back on what she ate until it fit her again.

I’ve seen pictures of Grandma Bossert. She looked like a Hollywood star even when she was well into her sixties, thanks to that little skirt and constant vigilance.

Our Church calendar is like Grandma’s skirt.

On fat Tuesday, we try on our spiritual skirts, and we realize that we have gotten a little out of shape. Our baptismal vows aren’t fitting like they should. And for 40 days, we submit to the process of self-denial and service to others. We ask for the grace to reorder our disordered lives, so that on Easter morning, we are ready to meet the Risen Lord.

We have ways of measuring our progress. We know what to do when things are out of control. At the end of Lent, we know that we could let things fall apart again, or we can ask God for the grace to keep our lives in right order.

We don’t have to wait for Lent to monitor our progress in holiness. We can ask for the grace to overcome our weaknesses today –  we can read the lives of the saints and get inspired. We can submit to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and lose the baggage we carry. We can end each day with an examination of conscience and begin each day with a simple dedication of our day to God.

There are so many ways to keep walking in holiness. Pick one. Eventually your spiritual skirt will fit like a glove.

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