Mother Brunner's Guide to Lent
by Jenna Legg
Someone asked me the other day what my spiritual practices for Lent might be this year. I joked (though somewhat serious) that I didn't know if I was going to do anything extra for Lent because it feels like we've been living Lent for the past year -- the sacrifices, the suffering, and the constant reminder of our mortality. And as I sat down today to write this article about what Precious Blood spirituality offers us for the Lenten season, I couldn't help but think that Mother Brunner treated her life as a perpetual Lent.
Now, it's important to look at the historical context of the time and understand that mortification was a popular pious practice. So some of Mother Brunner's sacrifices may seem extreme to us, but they were accepted and honored in her time. Although she was a single mother to six children, she made time to pray the rosary daily and often reflect on the stations of the cross. She traveled hours in the snowy mountains for Mass or on pilgrimage to holy shrines. She was no stranger to fasting, especially since she would give away most of her baked bread to the poor. Whenever anything inconvenient, unpleasant or even awful happened, she used it as an opportunity to unite her suffering to that of Jesus.
In some ways she appeared to belittle herself and her trials. Late in her life, she suffered a painful sickness and death. But she reminded others that she was unworthy of any comfort she was given. She remained steadfast in her prayers, especially pleading for mercy for herself and grace for her children.
Now, I'm not suggesting we take up intense practices of mortification. I'm still not sure what practices I might add to my Lenten journey this year. But what I am praying for is that I am able to offer my suffering to Jesus and unite my pain with his. I think Mother Brunner had an extraordinary gift to see beyond her own suffering and endure trials for God. In some ways, she knew any pain was temporary, even if it lasted her entire earthly life. She believed so much in the joy of heaven, that no suffering on earth could deter her faith. That's what I want to focus on this year. We're not out of the pandemic yet. There is still a lot to be done and I know the next few months will bring challenges. This Lenten season, as we read about the trials and suffering of Jesus, I will pray for the grace to offer my pain, whatever it may be, to God. And honestly, I think that's a lot of what Precious Blood Spirituality is about.