Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy Lent?! What Kind of a Nut am I?

A Catholic one.

"Happy Lent" isn't an expression that's used, as far as I know, but it's not really as crazy as it sounds. Praying for a "happy death" is something else: That's something I fervently hope I experience (Catechism, 1014). Not that I'm in a hurry for that part of my life, but get real: death is a part of life. The trick is to get it over with in God's time, and on His terms, not ours.

Let's see: "Happy Lent." Right.

Well, one stereotype of the 'typical' Catholic is of some masochistic screwball who gets kicks out of fasting, ashes, and hair shirts. All three have their place, but the idea isn't so much punishing ourselves, as doing penance for our failures and shortcomings. The way I see it, it's a chore - like washing dishes. I don't expect to get a big kick out of chores, but I know that they've got to be done.

Lent isn't just about 'giving up something.' That's not my idea: it's in the Catechism (1438). Useful actions include:
  • Spiritual exercises
  • Pilgrimages as signs of penance
  • Voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving
  • Fraternal sharing like charitable and missionary work
And, yes: I'm getting some of my Lenten work done in this post. If you read it, and learn something, great.

One more thing: If you're not 'into' Lent, I won't make you give up fried bananas, or whatever. If you want to get closer to Jesus, great. If not: that's up to you.

'Are We Having Fun Yet?'

I plan to do more posts about Lent and my experiences this time around, as the season goes on. Before I forget, though:

"The Lenten Season"
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

"On Ash Wednesday, February 25th this year, Catholics begin the forty-day season called Lent which precedes the celebration of Easter, Christ’s resurrection from the dead...."

This part of the USCCB website looks promising. There's something new there: "Lenten Audio Retreats" -
  • "What We Believe"
  • "What We Celebrate"
  • "How We Live"
  • "How We Pray"
Okay: they're probably not as entertaining as the latest Beyoncé video: but they might be worth listening to, anyway.

Truthfully, I do have 'fun' with some Lenten practices - in the sense that I enjoy them. Like the prayer I'll be saying tonight, in a few hours. Series of prayers, actually: it's a chaplet.

Other practices aren't so much fun. But, I do them anyway. No big deal: They're chores, without the soap and brooms.

Actually, some could involve soap and brooms, but I'm running out of time.

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.