Linking up with This Ain’t the Lyceum!
4 p.m. Pancake/Fat/Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday. I’ve just finished a homemade nutella “pocket” and still have no idea what I’m giving up for Lent. My head is full of retorts for why I didn’t give up sweets, how the “offering up” of something while good spiritual discipline, is purely voluntary, and why must Catholics spend the drudges of the year (February and March) pressuring each other to have The Best Lent Ever!!! (TM). Look, it’s not going to be TBLE!!! if it’s something forced. For some inspiration other than a vague “Maybe I might try to do daily Mass again this year,” or “what if what God is asking for me to do is get back to my writing for His glory?”, I went to the blogs. It was very easy.
Here are some truly excellent quotes about the personal sacrifices we make. And at the end, I’ll reveal what I finally decided on.
“A hard-core Lent that is full of penance is not necessarily a good Lent. Lent isn’t a survivor experiment. It’s a preparation for Easter. If you lose sight of Easter, your Lent is pointless.” (Taylor Marshall). So it’s okay to continue having coffee.
“For the past decade or so, I’ve followed one simple rule when discerning my Lenten penances: Don’t take on any commitments that will lead me to commit mortal sin. It works. I drink my coffee in the morning, my “medicinal” beverages at night, and Lent in my house today is far more peaceful, sane, and spiritually fruitful than it was 10 years ago. Which I happen to think is just dandy.” (Emily Stimpson). She gets it! And has her coffee, too.
“I’d always heard that you should give up something good, but I didn’t really get why, so I just went with giving up cursing for Lent…Then I pictured myself rising on Easter morn’, taking a deep breath, and shouting the f-word. Umm, yeah. That’s why giving up something that’s bad anyway doesn’t quite have the same effect. So no sugar in my tea for Lent.” (Jennifer Fulwiler). Even she didn’t give up her caffeine.
“There is no Lenten practice that will bring you closer to God unless you ask God to help it happen. If you get someone a present, you have to put the right name on the tag, or it’s wasted effort.” (Simcha Fisher) I imagine God sitting up in Heaven wondering aloud to Jesus and Mary how not having coffee is helping our relationship. Coffee brings people together!
“Unless you’re a hermit, your decision will affect other people. The rule of thumb is that you get to choose your suffering. Not everyone else’s.” (Simcha Fisher) And for the sake of everyone, it’s really okay for me to continue having coffee.
“Regular sacrifices can give us constant reminders of what we are supposed to be doing, but they can also become a substitute for what we’re supposed to be doing. If God is calling you to repair your marriage, going forty days without Snickers bars is probably not going to help.” (Simcha Fisher) So I’m going to have my coffee, because that will actually help with what I feel I do need to do.
“The traditional custom of giving up something for Lent is voluntary. Consequently, if you give something up, you set the parameters. If you choose to allow yourself to have it on Sundays as to promote joy on this holy day, that is up to you.” (Jimmy Akin) So my parameters are going to be the following, with coffee allowed:
– Give up indulging laziness. No more claiming “writer’s block” and tuning into a repeat of Grey’s Anatomy or some other mindless daytime television. I will try to do anything else, and yes, maybe even writing.
– Give up not doing anything “spiritual” because it seems like I already do enough. I have Rediscover Catholicism to read, a plot bunny involving The Interior Castle to explore, and at least one hour every day (seriously) for Mass or adoration of the exposed Blessed Sacrament, or failing that, simply sitting quietly in a pew.
– Give up not writing. I can’t be honest and say that I will stick to a proscription of a certain amount of time per day or what constitutes as Lenten writing, but I can say that I can get over myself and at some point get back to what God asked me to do.
How is doing what I should be doing penitential? Well, I hate not having mind distractions, so an hour of something spiritual and quiet will be “better” reparation than skimming Simcha’s “older posts”. How is writing, which can be very enjoyable, and maybe even profitable (if I sell the fruits of this Lenten labor), repentance? Well, think about some of the more creative penances you received in the confessional: yelled at a significant other, do a nice thing for them; missed Mass, go to more Masses. The past few months I haven’t been writing or doing anything particularly holy, so to make up for where I’ve failed, I’m going to literally make them up.
The truth is I’ve been in a spiritual funk, and I’m going to try to use this Lent to get out of it. It’s not going to be as cut and dry as 40 days of 952 words each and then total slackdom for the rest of Easter or agonize over whether my Lent is holy enough (or worse, holier than thou’s), but just the current season I have to grow in holiness. God bless you in your Lent!