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Nicole Berlucchi shares her solution to the annual Lenten dilemma: so many programs, so little time.

How many times have you uttered to your children as they mulled over the red Starburst or the yellow or the pink and were suddenly scooping up all three … just pick one? Or as they tried to bring all their toys for the car ride to the store … just bring one? Most recently, I was in my boys’ closet and noticed my about half of my sons’ shirts were half pulled off their hangar. It was a bizarre scenario I pictured in my head—my son grabbing shirt after shirt: I think I want to wear this; actually, never mind, I will just leave it hanging here haphazardly. 

Funny enough it made me think of my Lent last year. Everything looked so good—Ascension, Blessed is She, Abiding Together, Poco a Poco. They all were doing something different, offering something different. It all sounded so good. I wanted it all. I bought all the books, signed up for all the things. The problem was that instead of going into the desert with the Lord, I found myself carrying too much.  

Instead of letting go of things to focus on Him, I had picked up more. Honestly, more than I could handle. I kind of squeaked through. I did get something out of what I read, but still it was unfocused. It was also not Spirit-led. I think it was more FOMO (fear of missing out).  

Here’s the thing, with the Lord, you can’t really miss out.  

So, I began thinking about what should the desert look like with the Lord … fasting is obvious and required in some cases, but what about prayer? I began thinking about Jesus being led into the desert. 40 days, just Him and God—not five books, three podcasts, and a handful of videos. Him and God in conversation. 

I took it to prayer and He told me—one thing. Pick one thing. As a result, I have tuned out the study advertisements and asked the Lord: what’s going to get me to go deep with You? St. Ignatius has been pursuing me for awhile to start doing the Examen along with St. Francis de Sales and St. John of the Cross. I even bought an Examen journal a few years ago. 

I had started the journal, but I felt like every day my thing where I felt God was absent was me losing my temper with my kids or my kids annoying me or something like that. I began to feel terrible writing this over and over, and I stopped after maybe two weeks. Like my sons’ half-pulled off shirts. Almost, but not quite picked. 




Recently, on retreat, in Adoration, I pulled out a book about discerning your personal vocation and how to link that personal vocation to the daily Examen. I started to see how I was judging myself in feeling badly about writing that thing over and over; instead, I am called to accept that it is my reality. I have things that annoy me or I reach a limit when I lose my temper. In accepting that, I can then invite God into those types of situations to figure out how to change. 

My one thing. The Examen. It was clear. He made it super clear. This is your desert. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be rigorous. You might feel alone. You might be tempted to stop. I will be with You, and I am preparing you for something greater. Trust Me, and get ready. 


Click to tweet:
Instead of letting go of things to focus on the Lord, I had picked up more. Honestly, more than I could handle. #CatholicMom


As you look ahead to Lent, just a few weeks away, I encourage you to spend some time in prayer with the Lord, asking Him if there is one thing you are called to pray with this Lent, or one method or one book or one song or one podcast.  

Whatever it is, scale back; the desert is meant to be an intense time between you and the Lord—one to one. While the growing selection of resources is an awesome thing for our Church, remember Lent is about the desert, not about the deluge of resources.  

You might feel a bit alone if you, like me, pick something that isn’t really a traditional study but instead a study of oneself in relation to God and His will. And that’s OK, because it’s a desert we are going into. It should feel a little lonely and desolate in order to turn the heat up in your faith and your relationship with God. 

When we tell our children to “pick one,” we do it to not spoil their appetite, to set boundaries, to prevent clutter, and to focus their time. Maybe God is inviting you to do the same this Lent: pick one. 



Copyright 2024 Nicole Berlucchi
Images: (top, bottom) Canva; (center) copyright 2024 Nicole Berlucchi, all rights reserved.