Monday, March 3, 2014

Always Lent, But Never Easter

You've probably started seeing the lists: "100 Things to Give Up for Lent," "What to Give Up for Lent - 20 Weird Ideas," "101 Things to Give Up for Lent," etc. (I have no doubt that there are countless others that I haven't seen.) If you have a lot of Catholic friends, these articles could be taking over your Facebook feed, like they are mine. 

Lent is coming. It starts Wednesday. 

I find myself deeply apathetic about Lent this year. Living what often feels like an "always Lent, but never Easter" (or to quote C.S. Lewis, "always winter, but never Christmas") life makes it hard to get excited about the official season of Lent. Lent is a season of sacrifice, of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, but when you are constantly living a season of sacrifice, trying to surrender your hopes and dreams to Him, giving up foods you enjoy, things you enjoy doing, using your limited resources for doctors and medicines, biting your tongue and struggling to be charitable and generous when people say stupid and hurtful things, it is hard to find something else to do during the season of Lent. 

Here are some of the suggestions (and my snarky answers):
  • Give up snacking? Are you volunteering to clean up after I've thrown up? What you call snacking, I call attempting to manage nausea.
  • Give up kissing? Do you really want to make intercourse more mechanical and less unitive than it already is? 
  • Use your weekends to babysit for free? You really don't want to go there. 
  • At dinner each evening, have each member of your family share something they are grateful for? Two things - that'd be over in 30 seconds. (I know this is meant to be a great conversation starter, mostly amongst families with children, and a great way to talk about what is important and what we value. But I don't think the cats have much to offer this discussion.)
  • Alcohol? I can't say I drink often, but there are times that I really need that glass of wine. The alternative is having a screaming/crying fit - or saying something very uncharitable. Just promising myself a glass of wine later can keep my tongue in check. I think I'll keep the wine.
  • Being picky - eat whatever is set before you? Lady, I haven't given up normal foods for fun; there's a medical reason for it. And I'd rather not end up making myself sick eating something that turns my stomach even more (vomiting at the dinner table is so passé).
  • Give up gossiping? You might not have noticed, but my life is somewhat akin to that of a hermit. Who would I gossip to, much less about?
  • Spend half an hour a day in meaningful conversation with your spouse? Umm - who do you think I talk to? Alright, yes, I spend a lot of time talking to the cats, but I talk to Husbandido even more than that.
I could go on, but I'll spare you.

Here are some of the things I/we already do: monthly donations to the food bank (Husbandido's office has a collection the last Friday of each month), monthly donations to our Parish and now the Diocesan Capital Campaign, being generous to those in our families who are struggling (even when those struggles are a result of their own choices), weekly Bible study, consuming almost no caffeine (I cut way back when we started TTC), being GF, wasting as little as possible (yup, even those overcooked noodles get eaten, and if it can't possibly be eaten [hello, mold], we compost it), regular prayer. 

Here's what I had already decided to do for Lent: reading daily Lenten reflections from Father Barron (you can sign up here) and going to a weekly series exploring the 7 Deadly Sins & 7 Lively Virtues at our parish, using the Father Barron series). I'm not sure if I should do more or be content with that; I'm trying to be aware of my own limitation while still listening for what He is asking me to do.

What are you doing for Lent?


  1. I do tend to like the "taking something on" approach to Lent more than "giving something up." And it seems you do too. I think you have some great ideas for this Lent! I just read this great post about Lent over on Kendra's blog that I bet you'll really identify with. She wrote about how to approach your "giving something up" or "taking some thing on" appropriately, to really reflect the spirit of Lent. If you haven't read it yet, here it is: . It just reminded me a lot of what you've written here, so I hope you don't mind me sharing it with you. :)

    1. Thanks for sharing Kendra's post! It and some of the links were really helpful in reminding me that the purpose of Lent is to bring us closer to God, by removing the things that get in the way.

  2. I think you have a great idea in taking up some things rather than giving up more stuff. I think there really is a time where giving up more would be inappropriate, as in your current situation. I often give up tv (and will except Sundays this year) but last year my evenings were so quiet and so long with living alone that it would have been torture. This year, I'm busier in the evenings, so I don't need it quite as much. But I won't be giving up blogging! I do need that interaction!

  3. I hear you on this post. I thought last Lent (this one too) that so many days already feel like Lent in terms of having sufferings and heartache to offer up that Lent wasn't going to feel that much different. And to be honest, TTC esp. when dealing with IF is super stressful and - I know this may sound weak, but I think you'll understand - some of the "little pleasures" that I might otherwise give up for Lent are saving my sanity and making me a decent person to be around! So yeah, it's a challenge for me too, thinking what to give up or take on.

    My DH wants to practice more courtesy during Lent with each other (you know how you get "overly familiar" with your spouse after a while? Pope Francis talked about that recently, how families should say "may I?" more often). So I think we'll do that, plus daily prayer, plus no sweets. And maybe some charitable works of mercy. I say work it out with the Holy Spirit - he'll let you know what's best for your soul this Lent!

  4. Yes. yes. yes. I find myself thinking "Lent, still?" I think this is why I went the route I did this year, because to just give up something didn't seem like it would work quite as intended.