Am I strange because I like Lent? I always have, even when I was a little girl. Back then, we went to Mass every morning at school. I loved the rhythmic way Father Henkel chanted, “Remember, man, thou are dust, to dust thou shall return” over and over and over. I loved singing “These forty days of Lent, O Lord, to You we fast and pray, teach us to discipline our will and follow, Lord, Your way.” I even loved the challenge of giving up something really difficult. And I REALLY loved fried fish on Friday night–a real treat that we never had any other time of year.
As an adult, I got into some serious Lenten self-denial–going without meat all forty days, fasting strictly EVERY Friday, not eating between meals at all for the duration. We began going to the Stations of the Cross each week, something I never did as a child.
Yesterday because of an argument over the abstinence requirements that I was having with one of my teenagers, I was reading some relevant sections of Canon Law. I was reminded that when the obligation to fast and abstain on EVERY Friday was removed, it was with the understanding that it was to be replaced with some other act of penitence. And then a Facebook friend commented that when people shouldn’t announce their yearly Lenten disappearance from Facebook if they want it to count as a sacrifice. This started me thinking–giving something up is great, if it’s done prayerfully. When it starts being about endurance and pride, which I think my fasting had become, it’s time to do something new. Staying off Facebook might be a great sacrifice, but not if all that happens is that it frees up extra time. What if you used that freed time for prayer or good works?
I’m not going off Facebook, and not just because it would be difficult. For one thing, it’s crucial to my blogging, which is something I want to be focusing on. For another, I like to think that I use Facebook positively, to encourage my friends, to spread news I think is important for people to see, and to get needed social interaction. There are some things I am going to cut back on for Lent, but I am also going to try to do some positive things. I’m announcing this one, but only because that’s the best way I know of to make sure I do it: I am going to try to blog every day. Posts may be very brief, but I’m going to try to put something out there EVERY DAY. Somehow commitments I make before God seem to be easier to keep than resolutions that I make just for myself. No, writing isn’t an act of penitence! But it can be hard to sacrifice that time when I have other things to do. And I will make an effort to include more spiritual, religious, or uplifting posts for the next forty days.
February 22, 2012