Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Thursday, June 21, 2018

For Father Chris Tiano, a great priest

Lent was fast approaching. "What shall I do for Lent, Lord?" I prayed from time to time, although I admit that I lacked a certain degree of enthusiasm. "Is there anything you want me to give up?"


I didn’t hear any clear answer, so I just picked something random. I anticipated a strikingly boring Lent.

Then God answered my question.

It began at music rehearsal. We were practicing a song for Good Friday – a haunting lament by the Blessed Mother at the foot of the cross. "Come and see what I have done," she cries. "I’ve given my only Son."

As I sang, my eyes began to water. My throat thickened. I could scarcely hold myself together. What was happening?

Later that evening I settled in front of the Blessed Sacrament. There, alone with Jesus, Mary’s lament continued to haunt me. "Come and see what I have done. I’ve given my only Son."

"What’s going on, Lord?" I wept. "Why do these words sting so sharply?"

The answer occurred to me almost immediately. God wasn’t asking me to give up some random pleasure during Lent. He was asking me to give up my daughter.

Our oldest daughter, Meredith, had entered the convent a few months earlier. She’s part of a small Capuchin order that is growing so rapidly that they’ve recently added a new wing on the convent to accommodate all the novices.

As happens with many traditional orders, however, contact with family is extremely limited, especially during the formation period. And our family is finding this separation excruciating.

"This isn’t what I want, God!" I often cry. This isn’t what I had in mind when I taught my children to say, "Yes," to God. Sure, I want my kid to do God’s will, but not if it means spending Christmas without her. I want to pace in agony when she’s in labor, then cry with delight as I cradle her babies. I want those babies to wear the family christening gown, and sleep in the family bassinet that my grandparents bought during the Depression for $2.50. What about how I feel? What about ME?

In other words, I want my child to follow Christ, but only until it starts to hurt. It reminds me of being in labor with Meredith almost 22 years ago. When the pain became too much to bear, I gasped to the doctor, "I changed my mind. I don’t want to do this anymore!"

He just laughed. You can’t turn back at that point. It’s a done deal.

So for Lent, I am giving up my dreams of helping Meredith sew curtains for her first apartment. I’m surrendering my plans for her wedding, and the crazy family tradition of hiding a rubber lizard in a honeymoon suitcase. I am relinquishing the life that I planned for my daughter, in favor of the life that God plans for her. His plans are better, anyway.

I don’t always like it, but I suspect that Mary did not always like God’s plans, either. What mother wants her son brutally tortured and murdered? And yet, more than anything, she wanted God’s will.

So for Lent, I’m giving up my daughter. And I continue to pray, "Not my will, but your will."

Regina Cram lives in Glastonbury and is a freelance writer.