As I guess everyone here knows I’m not Catholic, some of you may not know that I was raised in the Roman Catholic church between the ages of 4 and 11/12. I had my first communion, I was confirmed. Don’t get me wrong, I never really missed Catholicism when we left it: I have been quite conscious by then that I didn’t believe, but was building on the faith of others.
Lent, however, was something that was truly special in my family. It was bigger than Advent. While Advent points the believers towards the birth of a baby while Lent points towards theone event that allegedly made that baby different from all other babies. Without the miracle of Easter the events of Christmas are meaningless. The preparatory season of Lent is just as much about looking forward to Christ’s triumph over death as it is about the sacrifices one makes.
Arriving at the topic of sacrifices, one of the things we always made sure that our eating was humble and involved real sacrifices. I just looked through some sites recommending recipes for Lent, especially for meatless Fridays, and I was apalled to see the luxurious feasts that they suggested. Eating scallops, shrimp, lobster and the such–unless those are regular staples in the area where you are–doesn’t seem like a personal sacrifice. It’s more like the letter of the Law attitude people frown at when Jesus’ contemporaries are mentioned. At the same time I don’t want to be too judgmental of people who choose to follow these lavish food suggestions, because after all it comes down to personal sacrifice.
FB and the blogosphere are full of posts of who is giving up what for lent; long, detailed lists, random things as well as real sacrifices. That’s another thing I now find funny. During my childhood our parish priests always reminded us that we should be humble about our sacrifices for Lent: “do it for G-d, his glory, not your own” was something very often repeated during the sermon on Lent. Of course there are situations when it’s practical to share, like if you give up FB, so your friends are not worried, or if you give up a regular activity so that people will know not to be offended when you say no, but generally, I don’t think everyone and their friends need to know that you are giving up pink eyeshadow. Maybe I’m just too conservative, or can’t keep up with the times when it comes to things like this, so please ignore my ramblings.
Oh, by the way, Wikipedia is telling me that bagels were invented in Kraków, Poland for Lent. So enjoy your bagels!
ETA: Ciska reminded me of something I was going to write: writing down what you commit to for Lent is a good way to keep yourself accountable. And I agree with that!