It’s Lent. Yesterday Christians could be seen displaying dark, smudged crosses or an attempt to make one on their foreheads. Lent is a time of reflection as Christians observe Christ’s journey to His crucifixion and resurrection on Easter.
It can lead to change. Christians are encouraged to fast, abstain from eating meat on Fridays, deny themselves certain things they enjoy and make positive changes in their lives and the lives of others.
The most ubiquitous aspect of Lent is its sacrifice. Believers “give up” stuff. Although we aren’t supposed to reveal what we give up, it’s often the first thing we ask one another during the season. The Bible discourages believers from thinking of Lenten sacrifices in this way.
Christian Lenten sacrifices are similar in some ways to “New Year’s Resolutions” but being offered in a religious context, are considered more deeply.
Like New Year’s Resolutions, Lenten deprivations tend to follow one’s perceived flaws. Diets are common. Cussing, drinking alcohol and smoking rank highly among things to avoid. Healthy habits: exercise, daily prayer and Bible study are encouraged.
As most well-intended faithful, I tend to start with an aggressive agenda. Some intentions fall quickly. Others linger longer. Last night, as we celebrated Ash Wednesday, I silently vowed to stop cussing along with a bunch of other things. In previous years, I denied myself booze and abstained from other comforts.
Our congregation always has coffee and doughnuts after Mass. During Lent, since sweets are often off limits to many, donuts are replaced by big, soft, salty pretzels that are great with mustard but are no match for a fresh doughnut with coffee.
I managed to make my way through the outer doors of the church before I cussed. Somebody mentioned republicans and I heard the fat lady sang. Freaking landmine, that one. I ought to receive some sort of dispensation, considering the circumstances. But to be fair, it wasn’t even close to a noble effort. I truly violated it nearly as quickly as I vowed to do it. I suppose I can still try not to cuss around toddlers…and clergy members. I’m reasonably sure I can make that happen.
I’m doing better on my other vows but since I’m still keeping them, I won’t divulge them here….unless I bite the bone on them, too.
In the meantime, if you observe Lent, here’ hoping that yours is extra rewarding this year.