Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Different Lent

Lent: It's not about chocolate!

It is customary to 'give up' something each Lent. I have long had a different practice. I take on a new attitude and try to make the most of it during Lent. Sometimes the behavior becomes natural and I keep it in my life and other times it has helped me to uncover other things about myself in need of spiritual attention. Yes, there have been times I dropped the ball and not kept the practice going all through Lent. I know God has forgiven me, today I forgive me and I move on.

From today I choose to celebrate the gift of that grace in my daily life and actions during the Lenten Season - including giving alms personally, with love and caring; not impersonal donations to this pantry or that poor box. I remember a homeless man who panhandled on a street corner in the Bronx. When I gave him a few dollars and met his eyes (instead of dropping my sight to avoid eye contact), I could see Christ in his face. It is too easy to make a donation and let other people complete the act. If I am disconnected from the act, I will not see God in the face of the other person.

What is the point of 'giving something up' if we are just counting down to Easter so we can have it again? What is the point of giving up the food and losing weight if I am counting down the pounds to the day when I can eat X again. If I cannot eat it today I will not be eating it 40 pounds from now - not if I want to keep those pounds off.

For this food addict, there isn't another way.



Anonymous said...

A priest one Ash Wednesday explained the process of giving up something like chocolate, candy, etc., that is not necessarily sinful (like swearing or well, other sinful things) is good practice for being able to say "no." If we can say "no" for forty days to cookies, beer, chocolate, or other things that we don't need to survive, we can be in better practice of saying "no" to other things (sins, foods we shouldn't have, etc.) after Lent is over. I liked that thought. Prior to that Ash Wednesday homily, I had just thought about giving something up (like chocolate) is a practice in solidarity with the people in the world who don't get to enjoy those luxuries ever because of poverty. I can go 40 days without chocolate and when I go to a birthday party and the cake is chocolate, I can pass on it even though I want some, and I can think about the people in the world who never get to have cake ever. So, I think there are various ways to think about giving up things for Lent and how they can be about more than fitting into the Easter dress (as the priest at my old church used to admonish) or gorging on the item in 40 days. And, yes, people can (and should) also look at prayer and almsgiving as the tripod to a "good" Lent.

Norma said...

Hell yes, Jane.

Unknown said...

I'm in total agreement with you, Jane. I think the trifling of giving up something insignificant for 40 days is more of an interesting mind game than anything else. Even worse, Friday fish fries has now become gourmet, not any sacrifice at all.

:-) Marion

PJ Geek said...

I like the Lenten calendar on's title is Fast Pray Give and every day there is a different suggestion. I do differnt things on different days. Sometimes all 3 on one day. I hear people complain about missing the thing they are giving up for lent--defeats the whole purpose.