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Give it up (making a Lenten sacrifice)
CERC ^ | 03.16.06 | Fr Raymond J. de Souza

Posted on 03/18/2006 9:55:44 PM PST by Coleus

We are two weeks into Lent and for those who observe the Christian practice of making a Lenten sacrifice, it's about now that the novelty of the challenge gives way to the onerous realization that Easter is still a month away.

The practice of "giving something up" for Lent has its roots in a time when the gravity of sin was rather more recognized. Consequently, the requisite penances were more grave too. During Lent, public penitents (those guilty of notorious and scandalous sins) were required to do public acts of penance: no bathing, shaving, wearing shoes, sleeping on comfortable mattresses, etc. Beginning these public penances on Ash Wednesday, they would prepare themselves for absolution and a return to the sacraments on Holy Thursday. Over time, the 40 days of Lent were established as a time when all Christians would prepare for Good Friday and Easter Sunday by doing penance for sins in the past, and disciplining the appetites so as to avoid sins in the future.

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!



TOPICS: Catholic; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: lent

1 posted on 03/18/2006 9:55:45 PM PST by Coleus
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To: Coleus; kstewskis; Petronski; fortunecookie; cyborg; HitmanLV; Victoria Delsoul; All

Happy Lent?
Well, why not!

Happy Lent, Coleus, kstewskis, petronski, fortunecookie, cyborg, hitmanLV, victoria delsoul and everybody!


2 posted on 03/18/2006 10:01:43 PM PST by onyx (IF ONLY 10% of Muslims are radical, that's still 120 MILLION who want to kill us.)
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To: Coleus; american colleen; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; ...
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!

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.

Happy Lent!

3 posted on 03/19/2006 6:41:42 AM PST by NYer (Discover the beauty of the Eastern Catholic Churches - freepmail me for more information.)
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To: Coleus

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.


4 posted on 03/19/2006 7:00:41 AM PST by Mercat (No Joy in Mudville)
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To: onyx; Coleus; Petronski; fortunecookie; cyborg; HitmanLV; Victoria Delsoul; All

And a Happy Lent to y'all too!


5 posted on 03/19/2006 7:05:22 AM PST by kstewskis ("I don't know what I know, but I know that it's big".....Jerry Fletcher)
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To: NYer

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!!!!


6 posted on 03/19/2006 9:17:05 AM PST by Gerish (Choose God, he has already chosen you.)
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To: Coleus

Great Post!
To appreciate all of Gods breezes.


7 posted on 03/19/2006 9:37:12 AM PST by exdem2000
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To: onyx
"Happy Lent?
Well, why not!"

And a sweetly fruitful Lent to you, too.

8 posted on 03/19/2006 9:44:21 AM PST by redhead (Alaska: Step out of the bus and into the food chain...)
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To: Coleus

Beg pardon, but there are enough anti-oxidents in chocolate to justify a little every day.


9 posted on 03/19/2006 11:00:51 AM PST by Desdemona (Music Librarian and provider of cucumber sandwiches, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary. Hats required.)
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To: Desdemona

Make sure you eat the dark chocolate to get the right stuff :)


10 posted on 03/19/2006 11:25:43 AM PST by Coleus (RU-486 Kills babies and their mothers, Bush can stop this as Clinton started through executive order)
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To: NYer

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.


11 posted on 03/19/2006 11:36:26 AM PST by Coleus (What were Ted Kennedy & his nephew doing on Good Friday, 1991? Getting drunk and raping women)
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To: redhead


Thank you!


12 posted on 03/19/2006 12:02:46 PM PST by onyx (IF ONLY 10% of Muslims are radical, that's still 120 MILLION who want to kill us.)
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To: Coleus; GatorGirl; maryz; afraidfortherepublic; Antoninus; Aquinasfan; livius; goldenstategirl; ...
FAQ's About Lent
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). ...

13 posted on 03/19/2006 1:59:30 PM PST by narses (St Thomas says “lex injusta non obligat”)
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To: Coleus; nickcarraway; sandyeggo; Siobhan; Lady In Blue; NYer; american colleen; Pyro7480; livius; ..
Here are some other links about Lent:

The History of Lent

The Holy Season of Lent -- Fast and Abstinence

The Holy Season of Lent -- The Stations of the Cross

Lent and Fasting

Mardi Gras' Catholic Roots [Shrove Tuesday]

Ash Wednesday

All About Lent

Kids and Holiness: Making Lent Meaningful to Children

Why We Need Lent

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI FOR LENT 2006

Lent a Time for Renewal, Says Benedict XVI

Why You Should Celebrate Lent

Getting the Most Out of Lent

Lent: A Time to Fast From Media and Criticism Says President of Pontifical Liturgical Institute

Give it up (making a Lenten sacrifice)

14 posted on 03/19/2006 2:32:58 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Gerish

**I gave up watching soap operas for Lent. Have not watched one since!!!!**

How wonderful!


15 posted on 03/19/2006 2:34:35 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Gerish
Oh my gosh! I gave up soap operas about that same time, and I was REALLY addicted...watched all of NBC's line-up from Days of Our Lives through Another World...Somerset.

And I never went back to them, either. I learned to fill my time with more productive things and CLEAN MY HOUSE!

16 posted on 03/19/2006 3:34:02 PM PST by Miss Marple (Lord, please look after Mozart Lover's and Jemian's sons and keep them strong.)
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To: redhead; onyx
"Happy Lent?
Well, why not!"

The phrase promoted in my parish (and beginning to catch on) is "Keep a Good Lent".

17 posted on 03/19/2006 5:05:43 PM PST by lightman (The Office of the Keys should be exercised as some ministry needs to be exorcised.)
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To: lightman



I love that!
Thank you.
I am TRYING (successfully thus far) to keep a good Lent.


18 posted on 03/19/2006 5:09:13 PM PST by onyx (IF ONLY 10% of Muslims are radical, that's still 120 MILLION who want to kill us.)
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To: Miss Marple
Ah, Another World was my favorite. Rachael and Mack!

Glad I never went back, they really are awful trash for the soul.

19 posted on 03/19/2006 6:11:31 PM PST by Gerish (Choose God, he has already chosen you.)
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To: Salvation

Thanks Salvation, good spiritual reading for the season!


20 posted on 03/19/2006 6:12:36 PM PST by Gerish (Choose God, he has already chosen you.)
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To: onyx
Here are some augmentations and practical applications of the "Keep a Good Lent" greeting that I offered in my parish newsletter:

"I credit Pastor for the thought that we should commend one another to “keep a good Lent”. The Lenten season really does not have a greeting, like “Merry Christmas” or “Happy New Year.” So, he proposes, we should greet (and exhort) one another to “keep a good Lent.”

How then might we keep a good Lent? What follows are some suggestions often offered in sermons on the first Sunday of the new calendar year, but which hold no less urgency at this time of recommitment:

• Keep a good Lent by coming to Worship one Sunday per month more than you presently do. If you have been in the habit of attending one Sunday a month, come two Sundays a month. If you have been in the habit of coming two Sundays a month, come three.

• Keep a good Lent by supplementing your Sunday worship with weekday services. Wednesday Eucharist is not just for those who are advanced in years, but for any who seek to hear more proclamation of Christ in Word and Sacrament. And various holy days appear throughout the year on days other than Sunday.

• Keep a good Lent by attending the Christian education program of the Church; Sunday School. Sunday School is not just for young children, but for any who seek to learn more about the the Bible and its meaning for daily life.

• Keep a good Lent by increasing your giving--your financial support of the congregation--just a little. Don’t feel that you must increase your weekly envelope by $5.00 or $10.00, or even by a whole dollar figure. If you write a check, why not make the cents “75" or “50” instead of “00”?"

21 posted on 03/19/2006 7:16:57 PM PST by lightman (The Office of the Keys should be exercised as some ministry needs to be exorcised.)
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To: lightman; kstewskis; Salvation; Petronski; All



BTTT!

Most excellent, lightman!
Thanks for posting.
God bless.


22 posted on 03/19/2006 7:21:02 PM PST by onyx (IF ONLY 10% of Muslims are radical, that's still 120 MILLION who want to kill us.)
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To: lightman

"Keep a good Lent by coming to Worship one Sunday per month more than you presently do."

I hope this isn't a Catholic church?!?


23 posted on 03/19/2006 11:29:37 PM PST by baa39
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To: lightman
· Keep a good Lent by coming to Worship one Sunday per month more than you presently do. If you have been in the habit of attending one Sunday a month, come two Sundays a month. If you have been in the habit of coming two Sundays a month, come three.

I would hope everyone would be attending Mass EVERY Sunday and coming to Mass additional days of the week. Maybe this recommendation was a typo?

24 posted on 03/20/2006 7:06:02 AM PST by frogjerk (LIBERALISM: The perpetual insulting of common sense.)
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