So tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and is since I am a good Catholic Mom, I have been chatting with kids about what they will give up for Lent. Our parish priest gave a wonderful homily on Sunday about using Lent to make changes in ourselves that will bring us closer to God and to act more Christ-like. We should give up lying, being jealous, hateful, etc etc…and yes that is a perfectly lovely notion, those things are unquantifiable, very abstract.
Giving up “stuff” ..chips, soda, candy etc, is something the very literal thinkers can understand. It is black and white…either you had soda today or you did not. Either you ate chocolate or you did not. Giving up a sin such as lying is harder…so very abstract…do you count bold outright lies… “I didn’t eat the last cookie, yes, I did all my homework” ? Or do you also have to count the lies of omission…ie, not telling the children that school has been cancelled until the next morning, despite me knowing that it was cancelled at 6pm the night before. How about exaggeration? Or answering a very specific question with a non-answer..diverting someone from the original question ? There are so many grey areas with giving up non tangibles. How nice do I have to be if I give up being rude?
My mother always taught us that in giving up something we particularly enjoyed we were making ing a sacrifice, and each time we chose not to eat the chips, drink the soda, we would remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us. We were to make our sacrifices specific (not just junk food, but a specific food in particular) and we had to keep track. It had to be done all day..EVERYDAY..it was a sacrifice, much like tithing or sacrificing an animal In the old days. We also were supposed to do something during Lent…go to church more, say a rosary, make an effort to demonstrate our beliefs and teachings of the faith..less passive, more straightforward.
Thats where we will stay for Lent, a quantifiable sacrifice and an unquantifiable act. I still have 20 hours until I get my ashes, so I haven’t finalized my decision, but I will be giving up something I love, something I think I can’t live without (like chocolate) because if I say, I absolutely can’t live without …whatever…that is placing it almost in the place of God…if I am so addicted to something…like coffee or chocolate, I may need to replace it with prayer and see how quickly it changes my attitude. (After the withdrawals have subsided and I can think clearly) it won’t be easy, but sacrifices aren’t supposed to be.