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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent: Not Just for Catholics Anymore!

I'm at that age where everything old is now retro and hip. My old neon Reebok high tops from high school are vintage, and Tupperware parties are ironic. And now we can add Lent to that pile. For those not in the know, Lent is a liturgical season of reflection that prepares us for the coming of Easter. Growing up Roman Catholic as I did, Lent was a time of rules, lots of rules - fasting on Ash Wednesday, no meat on Fridays.

Lent also meant giving up something. The nuns at my elementary school said that in order for us to understand the sacrifice that Jesus would make for us when he was crucified, we needed to give up something dear to ourselves. So, like Star Trek, the search would begin for that meaningful thing. In years past, I'd focus on certain foods, like French fries, or sodas, or meat, or desserts. Thus, my Lenten journey became a jump start to my diet.

Some years, I tried to give up bad habits that I felt were stifling the development of my personal character, like gossiping. But I didn't last long with these, and would soon find myself swearing off of French fries for the duration of Lent.

Now, I've found that my non-RC (that's short for Roman Catholic) brothers and sisters are getting hip to Lent. Turns out that people like the idea of affecting deep personal change in the span of one month!! Lent has become their very own makeover show. Don't get me wrong, I think that it's a good thing when people take some sort of inventory of their lives. But the Lenten sacrifice, like New Year's resolutions to lose weight or join the gym, can become a short-lived endeavor that's abandoned when it's no longer convenient.

I've found myself at the end of Lent lighter in girth, but not necessarily more spiritually aware. Lent can become a time of intense navel-gazing, but it also has the potential to direct your focus outside of yourself.  So what'll it be for me this Lent? I'm still unsure, but just to be on the safe side, I'll just avoid the McDonald's drive-thru for the next 40 days and 40 nights - no use in tempting fate! I'm just saying:)

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