Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lent Is Not a Diet Plan

If it's Ash Wednesday -- which it is -- then it's time for my annual screed about what to do (or not) during Lent.

Last year, I questioned the wisdom of jamming things to do into the 40 days of Lent. This does seem to be the time of liturgical year when churches offer lots of events (e.g., missions, soup-n-salad dinners) and activities (e.g., community service, Stations of the Cross in various dramatic forms).

Me? I advocate Lent as a time for more prayerful, intimate relationship with Almighty God. I view Lent as a call to deeper discernment about God's will for my life. Not that I'm always so thrilled with what God reveals. But let's get real, although it can become goofy, the spiritual journey is not supposed to be like a trip through Disney World.

Nor, I feel compelled to note, should Lent be like a diet plan. Go ahead and give up candy, cake, cookies, and pizza if doing so truly helps you enter more deeply into contemplating sacrificial love. Just don't brag to me about how much weight you've lost after only 20 days. And do not add, "where's the chocolate bunny?" to "He is Risen indeed!" on Easter.

Obviously, I have not given up being judgmental. Not yet, anyway. I'm still waiting on the Lord to reveal this year's Lenten focus. I'll have plenty of opportunities for discernment while reading from the ambo at the noon Mass, distributing ashes at the 4:00 and 5:30 services, and singing with the choir for the 7:30 Mass.

And to help transport me into a Penitential Frame of Mind, I'll be wearing very uncomfortable shoes.


  1. My favourite priest said mass this morning. He talked about the 'new form' of the words said when distributing ashes: Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.

    In a very few words he pointed out that this meant: turn away from focussing on ourselves; be inclusive; be humble; figure out how we can love our neighbour...

    Suddenly giving up chocolate didn't seem so important anymore.

    Nice post. Thanks.

  2. Thanks, jwordsmith! Today's Hebrew Scripture reading (Isaiah 58:1-9) really puts the chocolate issue into perspective.

  3. Oops! Too late for me. I always ask for the chocolate bunnies. But, I never lose weight ....


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