Back in the days when I was a young lad and Sister Cephas was in charge of my religious education, Lent was a pretty big deal in the Ancestral Betz Home. We would always attend Mass and get ashes on Ash Wednesday (one of our priests called it The Feast of The Black Thumb) and spend time contemplating what we could give up for the season — making sure that it was just the right blend of sacrifice-but-not-too-sacrificial, if you get my drift. For example, all desserts might be tough, while candy by itself would be okay, and television was out of the question. For a while we tried the “instead of giving something up, I’ll do good works and read the Bible everyday” strategy, but my parents saw that as a transparent attempt to keep Tastykakes in my life for six weeks.
Of course, Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays were days of fasting and/or abstaining from meat. This really never bothered me because that meant PB&J for lunch, which was my favorite anyway and for dinner we’d often have to make do with pancakes. Make do with pancakes? Are you kidding me? Pancakes for dinner was awesome and still to this day I feel that anytime you can have breakfast foods for dinner it goes down as a WIN. The food “restrictions” about Lent could have lasted all year as far as I was concerned.
Of course, these days at The Aerie we’ve been trying to have more meatless meals for cardiovascular rather than spiritual reasons and easily cover more than one vegetarian day a week. Does that make me a better person in the Church’s eyes? I doubt it.
I guess I’ve been thinking back on those days as I’ve seen peoples’ facebook and twitter feeds blooming with ideas about what they’re considering giving up for Lent. Ironically given the media, one of the most popular sacrifices seems to be social media, which is being equated with mental junk food. To me, it seems like for many Lent has become sort of a limited-time shot at re-invigorating their failed New Year’s Resolutions. But maybe I’m just being cynical and even just trying with a “fake it til you make it” attitude is worth some kudos.
So what about you – trying to kindle a spiritual devotion over these 40 days through prayer and sacrifice? Trying to make yourself better by giving something up? Or will the Lenten season just pass like any other?
Me? I think I’ll be making the case for more dinners of pancakes.