What did you decide to do for Lent? The past two Lents have not been been my strongest (think: realizing it’s a Friday in Lent only after I finished the bacon-smothered cheeseburger…on more than one occasion) so I wanted to step it up a little bit this year. In other years, this liturgical season has been a time of great spiritual growth and closeness to God, so I was hoping to be a little more prayerful this time. Here’s what I decided to do:
- Give up secular music
- Pray Lauds and Vespers every day
- Wear a chapel veil to Mass
I spent a lot of time coming up with this list. One of the problems that led to last year’s Epic Lent Fail was that I was careless about what I chose to give up. I knew I couldn’t handle much, so I spontaneously decided to forgo sugar in my coffee. I only add a small amount, after all, so surely giving it up would be perfectly doable. Alas, I quickly discovered just what a surprisingly large percentage of my will to live on any given day is due to that tablespoon of sugar, and I found myself crying to the heavens in agony, “IT’S JUST TOO HARD!!!!!” two days after Ash Wednesday. And because I have this (bad and immature) habit of throwing my hands up at the entire concept of Lent if I can’t stick to what I committed to, the whole thing went off the rails.
This year I’m feeling much better about my choices. I don’t have the kind of life where I have tons of time to zone out to my iPod anyway, so it’s really not that big of a deal to say that I’ll only listen to religious music (which, for me, will probably be mostly choral pieces from composers like Clemens non Papa, John Taverner, and Thomas Tallis).
Something Lauren Gulde said in her 5 Tips for an Intentional Lent post has stuck with me over the past few days:
Lent is not about YOU: When I was a ‘new’ Catholic, I would attempt to offer up numerous things for Lent. Simple, ill-placed logic told me, “The more I offered up, the better the Lent!” Well, in reality, I just ended up frustrating myself…trying to keep up with all those self-imposed rules. I also later realized that these ‘sacrifices’ made me focus way too much on myself and not nearly enough on Jesus and those around me. In a way, I had allowed my offerings to become a competition — within myself (could I REALLY pull this off for 6 weeks!?) and with others (I wonder what they’re giving up…). Make your Lent about Jesus, not about you. Our offerings, sacrifices, prayers, participation should all be things that turn us away from ourselves and point our minds, hearts and bodies toward Christ.
Though I have had Lents when I felt called to make multiple large sacrifices and it ended up being very fruitful, I love her overall point about not making it about you. I think this is good to remember if you find that you can’t stick with your commitments: it’s not a competition, with yourself or with anyone else. In fact, it’s not about you at all. You haven’t “failed” if you find that you can’t keep all the promises you made on Ash Wednesday. Just place your focus back on Christ, in whatever small way will work for you, and make growing closer to him your only goal. (Preaching to myself as much as anyone here. You know, in case I find that I just cannot go 40 days without a Wu Tang dance remix.)
Joe is doing a one-night camping trip with our son. He asked if I wanted to go, and my reply was something along the lines of:
Did you know that there’s a husband-wife survival show? The premise is that this hardcore Special Forces survivalist and his journalist wife go out to all these insane locations and he teaches her how to live in the wild. This concept is so hilarious to me. Whenever we watch episodes I just marvel at these people’s bottomless stores of patience. They’ll be freezing and starving and trying desperately to craft a fishing line out of a stick and the threads from their clothes, and the wife will mess something up, and the husband will say calmly, “That’s okay, honey, let’s just spend another 45 minutes getting a new string, and we’ll try again.”
I giggle endlessly thinking about how very, very different the Jen and Joe survival show would be. I have a feeling that me + no tent + no indoor plumbing (or toilet paper, for that matter) + extreme temperatures + extreme hunger + extreme fatigue would keep the staffers in the editing room who are responsible for bleeping out profanity very busy. I can already picture a scene where Joe reaches a breaking point and sighs/screams, “Would you PLEASE stop talking about how much you ‘despise’ the Alaskan wilderness and ‘want to see it all paved and replaced with Targets and themed chain restaurants’ and HELP ME THREAD THIS FISHING ROD?”
If we ever want Minor Revisions to become an international sensation, we may want to go for Minor Revisions Season 2: X-TREME SURVIVAL.
How thrilled am I that we have a grocery service that specializes in local, organic food, all delivered to my doorstep with no extra charge? VERY. I can’t afford to do all our shopping through them, but I’ve been buying meat, milk, and eggs from nearby farms through this company, and it’s everything I dreamed it could be. It’s like going to the farmer’s market without all the fighting for parking and having people glare at our family size and chasing down children while wondering angrily why nothing can ever be easy. I mean, it’s not grass-fed beef raised by NUNS (you win, Kira — with bonus points for trying cow tongue), but I’m pretty excited by it.
Here’s something to blow your mind: Taco Cat spelled backwards is…Taco Cat.