Why this blog? Why Me? Why now?

Recently, after a series of particularly stressful events, I had a day that was full of tiny moments that all seemed designed to push me towards God. As I've never been a regular churchgoer and certainly not a believer, this came as a bit of a shock. I have never felt that I was missing anything, but it was too strong of a feeling to ignore. It is possible that in a month or week or day that the compulsion will pass. It is also possible that it will not.

I started this blog to document the process. I am starting from scratch, more or less, so please forgive me if I get some fact about your church or your faith wrong. I'm a work in progress.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thought on Lent, from a first time participant

This will be my first year to participate in Lent in any way. Ever since learning about making a sacrifice during Lent (which I didn't learn about until I was about 25, there aren't a lot of Catholics in the Deep South) I've been fascinated with the idea of giving something up.  I didn't take the time to read about it, of course, but was always slightly jealous of people who "got" to do it. I was disappointed to learn that my Catholic husband (who I met later) didn't really participate.  This year, we are. We both gave up candy, including chocolate. This isn't particularly original, but we beginners and so this is what we chose. Last night we had some Easter candy and today it was supposed to go to work with Mike so that it would not tempt us at home. It did not go. I guess I get to learn strength the hard way. (Cadbury mini eggs might be my favorite candy of all.)

Last night as I was lying in bed, I did my usual prayer, but then was thinking about Lent and sacrifice and Jesus and how I didn't really know the meaning of Lent. This led to my getting up today and reading a few articles and blog posts of the more serious type.  Most of the blog posts were from the Catholic Exchange (WHY can't their RSS feed be easy to set up? It's like they want me to forget to click over. Also, you'd think they would actually link book titles to a place to purchase said titles, no?) Here's the most interesting thought that I read, from For Lent: Redefine True Womanhood. This one has great ideas for other sacrifices, than the obvious chocolate choice. I particularly like "Fast from negative self-talk about your value or appearance."  I'm not an overly negative person, but I think this one could really change a person, even if they failed.

After I read those, I decided I better read the Daily Mass readings for the day, so I went and did that. Which told me that I'm not supposed to let anyone know that I'm fasting and I'm supposed to pray in secret. This is all well and good, but how does that reconcile with wearing ashes from Mass? It's not like I really wanted a medal for participating, but I didn't realize it was supposed to be on the hush hush. If I had read that on any other day I would have assumed that it meant that a good Christian did not go shouting to the rooftops what a great Christian they were, but since it's the reading for today, a day of prayer, fasting and alms, perhaps it means today? Clearly, I have more reading to do. I think maybe it's time to go to the source, and read one of the gospels. My good friend G (not Catholic) suggests John, so that's where I'm going to begin.  I'm also going to spend a little more time thinking about today's readings, as it seems there's a good bit of other stuff to think about in there ("A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me." Ps 51:10 and "O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise." Ps 51:15)[Side note: If you happen to be reading the wrong one, say Psalm 50 instead of 51, you will be utterly confused.]

In the hour it's taken me to write this, I've had to resist the mini M&Ms at least 6 times. Every single time I've thought, "oh wait, I gave those up for God." If this is any indication of how the next 40 days will go I will either be very devout or very bitter at the end. Perhaps I should get rid of the bag of candy now.


  1. It's so funny you wrote about keeping one's Lenten discipline private. Last year, I gave up Facebook, which was, for me, like willingly locking myself up in a closet and not speaking to anyone for 40 days. Awful.

    Since I'm on it so much, I naturally thought that the entire internet would explode if I didn't let everyone on my friends list know that I was going off FB for Lent. So I made my profile picture into an image that said just that.

    A fews days later, my spiritual advisor called me and gently pointed out that by announcing what my sacrifice was, whatever reward I got from people was the sum total of my reward. By blabbing about it to everyone, I'd squandered my chance for eternal reward.

    Well, naturally I got pissy. I thought to myself, "That's not right. What about the ashes? What about Christ's sacrifice on the cross? He didn't keep that private."

    Then I realized that the ashes were meant to show our commitment to repentance, and not to show what we were going to do to offer reparation to God now that we'd repented. And then I realized Christ's sacrifice on the cross wasn't what he would have chosen to do. He did it out of perfect conformity to the Father's will, but he didn't choose to publicize it- that was done by the earthly authorities.

    To pile it on, I remembered what Christ said about keeping your good deeds secret, so your left hand doesn't know what your right hand is doing, etc. etc. And then I realized that my SD was right, and by putting up a picture on FB about what I was giving up for Lent, I was acting pridefully, and looking for human recognition.

    Worst. Lent. Ever. Because I didn't do what you're doing- continue with my sacrifice humbly ("Ok, I messed up, and I should have known better. I'm not getting any eternal reward for giving up FB, but I'm still going to do it because I love God." Oh no. My thoughts were more like this, "This is horrible. I'm going to die. And I'm not even GETTING anything out of this. Me me me, whine whine whine.").

  2. The more I read about it being private, the more it feels like I got something wrong by posting about what we gave up. And then I realize there's no way I'd have known and Mike does not read my blog(s) so he wouldn't be able to tell me. I'm learning as I go and posting it here so it seems unauthentic to take it down, so it stays. I figure, even if it earns me no rewards from God, it will make me more aware of God on a daily and real basis, so it's still a win.

  3. Though I'm not Catholic, I still participate in Lent. I view it as not only a sacrifice, symbolizing Christ's sacrifice, but also as a renewal. After all, Easter is all about re-birth right? Something like a much more meaningful New Year's resolution.

    I also like to share my Lent sacrifice with others, hoping that it inspires them to do the same. Not necessarily giving up the same thing, but rather causing them to think about why Lent is around to begin with. I hope God is always using me to encourage others and I view my Lent process as part of that. I know I'm encouraged when I hear of what others' gave up!

    This year I gave up "time." With the new baby, my time for reading God's word and doing a daily devotional definitely fell away, though I was still finding myself on Twitter and on Facebook. I am sacrificing my "free time" in order to dive back into my Bible study again. So far, so good.