Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Lenten Resolutions

One thing about being Catholic—we have many opportunities to make Resolutions.  Or to re-make Resolutions, the ones that get broken on January 2.

Lent is just such an opportunity.

When I was a kid, Lent was more about “giving up” than about becoming a better person.  The idea was that by making little sacrifices we would participate in the larger sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf on Calvary.  One year we actually made a spinner, using paper brads and a paper plate.  The idea was we would write down different things we could do, like “No Candy” or the dreaded “No TV”.  Each morning, we would spin the arrow and give up whatever was indicated for that day.  (It was amazing how infrequently “No TV” came up.  The idea that we could do something instead of give up something came much later in our theological development and was probably a product of Vatican II thinking.

No matter what I do during Lent, when Easter comes I never feel that I’m as ready as I should, or could, be.  But I try anyway, working on areas that definitely need some type of improvement, denying myself some treat because I want to demonstrate my control over my body.  Hubs, who is not Catholic, doesn’t understand this.  What’s the point in giving up alcohol if you’re not an alcoholic?  Why deny yourself chocolate or chewing gum or popcorn—they are such innocuous treats?  Why give up meat on Fridays and snacks on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday?  Why go to church when you don’t have to?  (That would be Ash Wednesday and the Tridium.)  Why is fish not meat yet chicken is?  If the kids are out of school on Good Friday, why can’t he take them to the movies?  

My answers don’t make sense to him.  I’ve resorted to the weak argument of “Because that’s what we Catholics do.  It’s Tradition.”  

After 27 years of marriage (March 10), he’s come to accept my Lenten quirks.  

This year I’ve got two goals.  The first is to give up popcorn.  This doesn’t sound tough, but I eat at least one bag a day.  It’s practically mandatory if we go to the movies.  A small thing, but something I will miss.

The other goal is tougher:  to keep my kitchen sink clean.  (Those of you who know the Fly Lady recognize this one.)  I hate housework.  I’ve tried to find joy in domesticity, in taking care of my family the way Mary took care of Jesus and Joseph, but my heart and mind just don’t buy it.  Keeping my sink clean and shiny—okay, just keeping it clean—is really a small thing, but it is something I tend to put off as long as possible.  

Unlike some bloggers I know, I need to become more Martha and less Mary.

My parish bulletin publishes the readings for the week.  I have been trying to keep up with those so that the Sunday readings can be heard and understood in the larger context of the Church.  I will continue that practice during Lent, trying to be more consistent.  

I’ll be issuing “Progress Reports” during the next six weeks, as well as checking out other websites and blogs for ideas and inspiration.

As always, prayers and good wishes are welcome!