Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

I must admit, I’ve been struggling with how much Lent noise there has been on the internet for the last two weeks. I feel like I normally prepare my heart for Lent on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday but in the last few years, much like the Christmas season, the season of Lent comes clattering in weeks before it beings. Read this, pray with with, buy this for your kids!

It has suddenly stopped feeling private. And maybe that’s just the nature of how we access information and how we live our lives now. For even I have felt the need to trumpet out what I’m doing for Lent personally and with my children.

How do we walk this line of wanting to share our faith and get resources into the hands of people who need them versus living a life of Mary’s quiet humility? I’m trying to figure it out for myself.

Lent is meant to be a time of prayer and fasting. It’s also meant to be a personal and introspective time. We are not to be the pharisees who go and say, “Look, look! See what I did?” This is especially difficult for bloggers because we know that people read what we write and we want to help them. I do not create special content for Lent because I know there is plenty of it out there.

If you want to find something to work on, you can do so easily. My challenge to you is that you choose something that is right for your soul, not for your social media account. I know, I know, most of us would scoff and defend the fact that we have a firm line in place and we don’t let the pressure of perfect pictures own us… but I think some of us are lying just a little bit.

If you created a product for Lent to help others, that’s great. Share it with joy and pride. But for everyone else, choose your Lenten journey and travel it offline. That doesn’t mean you can’t share it privately with friends. I think walking in faith together is important but let’s stop trumpeting our spiritual journey in search of applause or virtual hugs.

Lent should be a somber time, a quiet time. Remember, we are walking in the desert. In my home, we stop watching all non-religious television. If we watch something, it’s about the trials of Jesus or one of the saints. We have penitential meals on Friday and that doesn’t just mean meat-free. Sure you can have cheese pizza but that doesn’t really teach you about the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.

If I sound a little judgy, it’s because I am. America has done what we so often do which is to take something good and to twist it into being commercial and fun. Lent is not supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be a slap in the face, a bucket of cold water. If it’s not painful, you’re not doing it right.

That is not to say that we have to get it perfect.  Many of you will set out with lofty goals and then life will get in the way and you will fall short. Jesus sees you and he knows your heart. He knows when you have to set down your spiritual practices to take care of your kids. But he also sees when you set down your spiritual practices to watch television. These moments are private. They have nothing to do with me or your friends. And in the end, your salvation comes down to your own choices.

Guard yourself against the glitter of the internet. Hold your Lenten pain close to your heart and allow it to lead yourself to Jesus.

It is important that we each walk through the desert for forty days each year. What a small price to pay to understand what the Son of God came to Earth to do for our salvation so that we might even have a shot at Heaven. Do not try to avoid the heat of the sun or the burn under your sandals. Learn to sit with the pain of this walk and ask God to show you what else needs to be burned away so you can be more like Jesus.

If you need a journal, a devotional, a DVD series, a series of adult coloring pages, etc. to help keep you focused on this journey, that’s fine. But embrace these tools as ways to sharpen your focus not to ease the pain of this trial. The pain is the purpose of it. Do not be scared of pain.

Here are five phenomenal quotes on pain and suffering from two great saints!

Trials and tribulations offer us a chance to make reparation for our past faults and sins. On such occasions the Lord comes to us like a physician to heal the wounds left by our sins. Tribulation is the divine medicine. 7

St. Augustine of Hippo

Would that men might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much suffering, in such a way that the soul finds there its consolation and desire. The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross. 12

St. John of the Cross

When it is all over you will not regret having suffered; rather you will regret having suffered so little, and suffered that little so badly. 4

St. Sebastian Valfre

Your first task is to be dissatisfied with yourself, fight sin, and transform yourself into something better. Your second task is to put up with the trials and temptations of this world that will be brought on by the change in your life and to persevere to the very end in the midst of these things. 24

St. Augustine

All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle. 21

St. Francis of Assisi