Lent approaches. (listen to me heave a big sigh.)
Lent, for those of you who may not really be familiar with the term, is the 40 weekdays before Easter, beginning with Ash Wednesday (March 9) and ending the few days just before Easter - Holy (Maundy) Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Lent is a season observed mostly by Catholics, and also by denominations within the Protestant community (although with different traditions/customs than Catholic churches).
I grew up Catholic. Indeed, since I have not gone through classes and been formally recieved into the Episcopal church, I suppose I can still call myself a Catholic - although I haven't attended Mass in, oh, about 7.5 years. My husband grew up in a Protestant denomination; as a compromise (and so as not to confuse the children!) we attend an Episcopal church. Our older daughter was baptized in a Catholic church; our younger daughter was baptized in our current church. Oh, my head is starting to hurt - so complicated!
Anyway. When I was growing up, right up until I moved out of my parents' house and perhaps for a few years after that, I observed Lent as a Catholic. No meat on Ash Wednesday, went to church on that day, no meat on the Fridays during Lent. Always went to church on Palm Sunday. Usually helped my mom take baskets with special ethnic "Easter foods" up to church on Holy Saturday morning, to be blessed. Sat through an endless Holy Saturday vigil which sometimes lasted until almost midnight. I went to a Catholic gradeschool so in my memory of those years, it seems like we were forever doing the Stations of the Cross during Lent. It was the whole nine yards, for a good many years, including...
"Giving up something" during Lent. Well, what does that mean? I think I gave up eating chocolate during Lent, several times. Two years ago, I gave up reading anything during Lent except the Bible (I think there may be a post on this blog about that!)...I don't remember how successful I was with that. On the website http://www.crivoice.org/, Lent is defined as a season "traditionally...marked by penitential prayer, fasting, and almsgiving...Most Christian churches that observe Lent at all focus on it as a time of prayer, especially penance, repenting for failures and sin as a way to focus on the need for God's grace. It is really a preparation to celebrate God's marvelous redemption at Easter, and the resurrected life that we live, and hope for, as Christians....Lent is a way to place ourselves before God humbled, bringing in our hands no price whereby we can ourselves purchase our salvation."
Those are some powerful words. How do they translate to me, in my day-to-day "stuff"? In what way would I combine the above description with my Catholic background and my current Episcopal affiliation? I no longer do the "don't eat meat on Fridays" thing (although I will admit, not doing that took me a while to get used to). Where I am these days, religiously speaking, is a complex thing - and it's made more important because now, I have children for whom I have to be an example. So, I'm not sure, this year, what to do with "Lent". Somehow, compared with the intensity of the description of Lent above, "giving up playing Farmville during Lent" just doesn't seem to fit, somehow, you know?
Well, I have three more days to figure it out.
Thanks for reading,