Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Lent, or something like it

Last night, I had dinner with a friend of mine who is Catholic.

ME: Hey, so you're Catholic, right?
HER: (Sighs, rolls eyes, sets silverware down, folds hands and puts them in her lap) Yes. Why?
ME: Because as you know, I'm an ordained minister.
HER: Of course. How could I ever possibly forget? (rolls eyes again)
ME: You're pretty good at that eye-rolling thing. But back to the matter at hand, I really like what your new guy is doing.
HER: Yes, Pope Francis is the dynamic and innovative leader that the church has needed for some time.
ME: Yeah, he's cool. Radical new ideas regarding love and acceptance, transforming an established, traditional institution from the top down. I dig that.
HER: Well, thank you.
ME: So I think I want to Catholicize my act a little. And this being the day before Lent begins, it seems like now would be a good time to kind of check it out.
HER: And what does that mean exactly?
ME: As far as forming the philosophy behind my ministry, I sort of go through the various religions and pick the stuff that sounds good, kind of like a sushi menu. "Oh, I'm not doing that. Ooh, that looks good!".
HER: I didn't know that was allowed.
ME: I'm not sure it is but it keeps me from having to support questionable standards and practices. It keeps me open-minded to the views of others and allows me to serve as a spiritual leader to those who might need me to serve as such and whatever.
HER: I don't believe you have any followers and I'd be nervous if you did but overall, that actually seems reasonable. All right, what do you want to know?
ME: Here's what I know about Lent; I'm supposed to give up something I enjoy for the 40 days as an act of sacrifice leading up to Easter Sunday.
HER: That's... kind of mostly correct. It's to prepare you through prayer, penance, atonement, self-denial and repentance of sin for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. It's also observed by other churches. It's not strictly a Catholic thing.
ME: Right. That's what I said.
HER: You should think of it as more than doing without something you like for 40 days; you should use that time to be more humble and contemplative.
ME: Ooh. Ooh ooh ooh.
HER: Why are you ooh-ooh-ing?
ME : The humble and contemptuous things are not strong suits for me.
HER: Contemplative. And if you know you're weak in those areas, this would be an ideal time to work on them. So maybe this is more than a big joke to you and actually a good idea. I'm interested to see how you deal with it.
Oh, me too.

Anyway, the bottom line is I'm doing Lent this year. It took me a while to figure out what to give up. I stopped drinking soda a few weeks ago, otherwise that would have been the obvious, easy choice. I don't indulge that much in sweets so that would have been to easy. I eventually decided to give up meat. I'll be a vegetarian. That's a fairly drastic change for me so this will be a good test for me. We'll see how it works out.

1 comment:

Jeff Hickmott said...

That sounds like a really good plan. I'll be interested to see the results, if any.