Saturday, April 16, 2011

"I've Given Up On My Lenten Penance..."


The last few weeks I've heard this from many Catholics raising the white flag on Lent - "I just can't do it" or "I started out Lent with a lot of things I was going to do, but now I'm clinging to my one final sacrifice, and I don't know if I can make it to Easter with that."

First of all, as General Maximus exhorted his troops in Gladiator - "HOLD THE LINE!!!" Stay strong!!! Easter is almost here.

Secondly, those broken Lenten promises need not be consigned to next year's Lenten wishlist.

Let's look at what some of our Eastern brothers and sisters do for Lent.

The Orthodox Church has a progressively more intensive Lenten sacrifice which is not left up to the individual person but is entered into by the entire community. Lent gets progressively more challenging, and they even encourage no eating from Holy Thursday night until the Easter celebration.

Learning about this has encouraged me to add some stuff as Lent has progressed. For Lent I gave up coffee and alcohol and going more than 8 mph over the speed limit. Then, for the final two weeks of Lent, I've added the giving up of sweets to my original sacrifices. For Holy Week, I'm adding no TV to the slate. It is certainly no Orthodox Fast, but it has been really helpful for me to experience a growing sense of solemnity as I head toward the Triduum.

So... to those of you who feel like you've dropped the ball on your Lenten promises... just renew your original promises for Holy Week!!! What a great way to make peace with your stumblings and to at the same time enter into a deeper sense of solemnity as you pass through this most awesome of weeks.

Blessings to you and your family this Holy Week!