Friday, April 25, 2014

I survived Quadragesima (not the Police album)

In my ongoing Chinese menu approach to spirituality ("Ooh, I like that! Gimme one of those. No, not that. Tried it, don't like it."), I participated in Lent this year. Lent (Latin: Quadragesima - English: Fortieth) is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday (aka "You got a little schmutz on your forehead there... what? Well, excuse me for not realizing it was a holy day! See if I ever say say anything if you have a piece of broccoli stuck in your teeth!" Day) and covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Day. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial. This event, along with its pious customs are observed by Christians in the Anglican, Reformed, Lutheran, Methodist, and Roman Catholic traditions. Today, some Anabaptist and evangelical churches also observe the Lenten season. What it comes down to is doing without something you enjoy for 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, demonstrating sacrifice on your part. Lots of people give up chocolate or coffee, stuff like that. I gave up meat. Well, some meat. I ate fish, and not just on Fridays. I may have had some chicken once or twice too. Okay, I gave up beef and pork. I had none of those two things for 40 days. It was easier than I thought it would be, too. Doing without at home was a breeze and any restaurant I went to had plenty of alternatives. I passed up some mighty good lookin' spare ribs one night and that wasn't fun, but overall, it was a breeze.
It was actually more like 46 days because I found out that they don't count Sundays. Those extra days aren't freebies either. You have to adhere, even though the day doesn't count against your pledge of 40. This was a major disappointment when I thought I was almost done and then found out almost a whole extra week was tacked on. I felt like Belloq must have felt in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" when he finds out that his copy of the Headpiece to the Staff of Ra only had instructions on ONE side, meaning he and his team of Nazi diggers were looking in the wrong place.
A relatively minor setback, however. I sailed through and now I'm just waiting for my Certificate of Completion from the Pope (complete with coupons for free fries!), which I assume is forthcoming because I have yet to learn that things like acts of sacrifice are their own reward.

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