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One of the perks of living in the DC metro area is my proximity to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. I needed to get some paperwork to my daughter faster than snail mail would deliver it and she  had class today at the adjacent Catholic University of America so I decided to make a mini-pilgrimage to the Shrine and then meet my daughter.

I do not like driving in general and driving in DC in particular. In spite of allowing ninety minutes to drive what should be a drive that takes less than an hour, I arrived at the Shrine a mere fifteen minutes before the start of Mass. Let's just say the process of getting there heightened my need for spiritual renewal. As I walked in to the Crypt Church I felt the weariness of the world slip away and the peace of that holy space envelope me. I was thrilled to see that the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. I took my place in the pew and let Jesus have all my worries, fears, hurts, and failures. Soon the priest entered for Benediction.

After Benediction there was still a few minutes before Mass started. Before the Processional, we prayed the Angelus. Then Mass began complete with majestic pipe organ music. This was a Novus Ordo Mass, done completely in English, with the priest versus populum. This Mass was proof that you can have a Novus Ordo Mass that is as reverent and beautiful as any Latin Mass. I am usually one who like to have at least some of the prayers in Latin but that is because so often the completely English Novus Ordo is shockingly nonchalant about the True Presence of Christ. Not this time.

After Mass I wandered upstairs to the Upper Church. I am always awestruck by the mosaic of Christ as well as the mosaics in the church domes. Walking by all the side chapels I reflected on all the roles Mary fills for the Church. She is a tender mother. She is an unfailing intercessor. She is the model disciple. She is a courageous evangelist. "Do whatever he tells you". She always points away from herself and towards her Son.

I spent some quiet moments in the chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Then I spent some time in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. From Mary to Christ. Lent had started out pretty well for me but I had noticed my discipline beginning to wane over the last week. This little bit of time spent away from my computer, away from my work, and away from all the noisy distractions of the world is just what I needed to spiritually recharge, refresh, and renew my Lenten intentions.

 Lent is about spiritual growth, not about perfection. Christ fell many times on the way to Calvary. We should not be surprised that our own path includes a few stumbles. If like me, you are beginning to feel the fervor of your Lent fading, I encourage to take yourself out of the world for an hour or two to refocus. There is still plenty of Lent left to spiritually prepare ourselves for Easter.


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