Thursday, February 15, 2007
Plans for Lent
I think Lent is my favorite time of year.
I love Christmas, too.
Christmas and Lent.
I remember being told by one of my grade school nuns that Easter should make us the most happy. Theologically speaking, yes.
I guess I am a winter person. I'm certainly always dressed for it.
Lent is just around the corner. It starts on the 21st of this month, so I want to get ahead of things and issue two warnings.
First, don't go berserk because it's about to be Lent and gorge yourself on things you are about to give up. New Orleans may need the tourist trade these days, but you don't need the girls gone wild. Or all those beads.
Second, think very carefully about what you are going to give up for Lent. The things people give up for Lent is a singular pet peeve of mine.
If you want to lose weight or quit smoking, do it on your own time. Lent isn't about looking better in your jeans or avoiding emphysema, although we wish you the best on both those counts.
Lent is about giving up something that will be a daily reminder of the fact that it's Lent. Then while you're thinking about the fact that it's Lent, maybe you'll remember what Lent is all about.
We're leading up to Jesus' death here, so we're thinking about why Jesus died and what he gave up for us. He died for our sins. Mel Gibson did a wonderful job of depicting what he gave up, subsequent drunken tirade not withstanding.
It would be great if you would stop biting your nails, but it's not going to cut it for Lent. You're not going to give up physical things for physical self help. You're going to give up physical things for spiritual self improvement.
Is there ever enough atonement?
Only give up coffee if you don't need to cut down on your caffeine.
Here's a good rule of thumb: If the thing you want to give up has an "and besides" behind it, perhaps it's not the thing to give up, as in "I'm going to give up butter for Lent because I slather everything with butter....besides, it will help my cholesterol levels."
Although, if you slather butter on everything and not having it will kind of ruin the taste of your food as far as you're concerned and you could care less about your cholesterol level, than I say, give up the butter. But if the whole time you've given up the butter and your food is ruined and you keep thinking about how the doctor is going to clap you on the back and say, "Good job!", forget it. You have taken the wrong path to penitence.
And don't try to sidestep your plan. If you've decided to eat your oatmeal plain, with no brown sugar or milk or raisins or anything, and then you eat eggs half the time for breakfast, shame on you, you slacker. No one let up on Jesus.