Skip to comments.Give it up (making a Lenten sacrifice)
Posted on 03/18/2006 9:55:44 PM PST by Coleus
Such penitential thinking about sin and reparation, discipline and temptation, is considered embarrassingly retrograde by promoters of Christianity-lite, but nevertheless the penitential spirit is quite widespread in our culture. It is tied not so much to the good of the soul in view of the next world, but to the good of the body in this world. The great Catholic theologian Michael Novak once told me that if Catholic priests were to assign jogging as a penance in the confessional, it would be denounced as a barbaric from of torture. (For the record, not even the most anti-Catholic historians of the inquisition ever accused it of making people jog.) The penance-as-self-improvement theme is rather wittily treated in a new book by Mary Carlomagno called Give It Up! My Year of Living Better with Less. Carlomagno was living the life of a young Manhattan professional, always connected, always on the go, and always shopping. This last provoked a crisis. She was in her closet when "an avalanche of designer shoe boxes hit me squarely in the head." This brought her to her senses, as it were, and she began to question the hyper, but superficial, life she was leading. Too many soles; not enough soul.
"Would it be possible to live without a hundred boxes of designer shoes, costly microbrewed coffee, expensive handbags, or the ever-present cell phone that fueled my everyday existence?" she asked herself. That list may seem rather alien to a suburban family not in the New York City fast lane, but everyone would have one list or other. Think video games instead of shoes, and a typical teenage boy can relate.
Remembering the Lenten practices of her Catholic youth, Carlomagno decided to give something up every month for a year. In January, it was alcohol. In February, shopping. And then elevators, newspapers, cell phones, dining out, television, taxis, coffee, cursing, chocolate, multitasking. I demur from recommending sacrificing newspapers, but the rest is a pretty good list, with cursing being a commendable permanent sacrifice. Carlomagno is no deep thinker, and there is no spiritual wisdom here, but she does come to realize some important lessons, principally that her "attitude toward needs and wants has changed. There is a distinction."
Lenten devotions and sacrifices remind us that so much of what clutters up contemporary life is just that: clutter. We can do with so much less than we think we need, and in the space left by the clutter we rediscover again the joy of reading a book, cooking a meal for others, serious conversations not fueled by alcohol, going for a walk or drive without trying to rearrange the day's schedule by mobile phone. Cutting down on the television alone would leave most families ample time to rediscover each other, and probably most of their neighbours too.
Lent is not supposed to be spiritual athletics, a time to discipline ourselves for the sake of becoming more efficient or healthy. The spiritual purpose is to reduce the clang and clamor of daily life so that the still, small voice of God can be heard in the gentle breeze, as the prophet Elijah discovered. It is for that reason that many Christians actually find Lent more spiritually fruitful than Easter, paradoxical as that is. We don't say it, but perhaps we should: Happy Lent!
Well, why not!
Happy Lent, Coleus, kstewskis, petronski, fortunecookie, cyborg, hitmanLV, victoria delsoul and everybody!
This is so true!! Like Carlomagno, over the years, I have extended certain 'lenten sacrifices' throughout the year. Last year I gave up the "talking heads" on FOX, CNN and MSNBC. Silence permeated the house which was then filled with prayers and devotions, along with reading Scripture. It has brought so much peace to my life.
hmmm, I gave up beef but some of those other things sound like good things to give up also. I can't give up elevators and continue my job (high heels, 8 floors, not safe for old lady), or cell phones for the same reason but a 40 day sabatical sounds lovely. I guess I could give up Law and Order. hmmm, maybe next year. I really only watch Law and Order and occasionally Fox and Friends.
And a Happy Lent to y'all too!
I will confess, about 15 years ago when I was in my early 20's, I gave up watching soap operas for Lent. Have not watched one since!!!!
To appreciate all of Gods breezes.
And a sweetly fruitful Lent to you, too.
Beg pardon, but there are enough anti-oxidents in chocolate to justify a little every day.
Make sure you eat the dark chocolate to get the right stuff :)
Silence permeated the house which was then filled with prayers and devotions, along with reading Scripture. It has brought so much peace to my life. >>>
It's also allows us to hear God talk to us.
Lent is a privileged time of interior pilgrimage towards Him Who is the fount of mercy. It is a pilgrimage in which He Himself accompanies us through the desert of our poverty, sustaining us on our way towards the intense joy of Easter. Even in the valley of darkness of which the Psalmist speaks (Ps 23:4), while the tempter prompts us to despair or to place a vain hope in the work of our own hands, God is there to guard us and sustain us. Yes, even today the Lord hears the cry of the multitudes longing for joy, peace, and love. As in every age, they feel abandoned. Yet, even in the desolation of misery, loneliness, violence and hunger that indiscriminately afflict children, adults, and the elderly, God does not allow darkness to prevail. In fact, in the words of my beloved Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, there is a divine limit imposed upon evil, namely, mercy (Memory and Identity, pp. 19ff.). It is with these thoughts in mind that I have chosen as my theme for this Message the Gospel text: Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity (Mt 9:36). ...
**I gave up watching soap operas for Lent. Have not watched one since!!!!**
And I never went back to them, either. I learned to fill my time with more productive things and CLEAN MY HOUSE!
The phrase promoted in my parish (and beginning to catch on) is "Keep a Good Lent".
I love that!
I am TRYING (successfully thus far) to keep a good Lent.
Glad I never went back, they really are awful trash for the soul.
Thanks Salvation, good spiritual reading for the season!