Sunday, March 2, 2014

Addition, Subtraction, and Lent

Lent starts Ash Wednesday, a few days from now. It's a big deal:
"...By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 540)
That doesn't mean that I should go to the nearest desert.

I live in central Minnesota, where the nearest dunes are in the Sand Dunes State Forest. Like many of the state forests, 'Dunes' has an assortment of lakes, ponds, and wet ground. Minnesota is not a particularly dry state: even in drought years.

South Dakota Badlands and Lent

(From Wereldburger758, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
(Badlands National Park, South Dakota, United States)

The nearest place that's desert-like is the South Dakota badlands: only 500 miles west and a bit south. There's paved road all the way, so I could make the trip: in a bit under eight hours, weather and vehicle permitting.

Happily, I don't need to take "in the desert" quite that literally.

Lent is when I should re-live the great events of salvation, and practice "penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing." (Catechism, 1095, 1438)

Penance? Self-denial? Fasting?? No wonder some folks think Christianity is all about being miserable. I'll grant that adopting an 'oh woe, all ye faithful' attitude is popular in some circles, and I've been over that before:

Lent: It's an Inside Job

(Me, Ash Wednesday 2011)

The 40 days of Lent is preparation for the Church's big day: Easter.

Sackcloth, ashes, fasting: they can be important, but they're what shows on the outside. The important work is inside me: a "conversion of the heart" that brings me closer to my Lord. (Catechism, 1430)

I've never seen sackcloth used as a penance, by the way. Sackcloth is the sort of cloth generally used for sacks: which is pretty obvious, from the name. We call hessian "burlap" where I live, I grew up calling burlap bags "gunny sacks:" and that's another topic.

You can use the stuff to make rugs, too. It would be distinctly uncomfortable for clothing: particularly undergarments. Which is the idea, of course.

We've been celebrating Lent for about two millennia now, and although the core of our practices hasn't changed, the cultures we work in aren't what they were in the first century.

For example, although the number of days for fasting within Lent has stayed right around 40, the total has varied from today's 46 days by up to three weeks. I suppose someone's upset that we're doing it the "wrong" way: but I think God's more interested in that "conversion of the heart," than in whose schedule we use.

Fasting and Common Sense

Fasting is important, and required for Catholics age 18 to 59: with some exceptions.
"Q. Are there exemptions other than for age from the requirement to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday?

"A. Those that are excused from fast and abstinence outside the age limits include the physically or mentally ill including individuals suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Also excluded are pregnant or nursing women. In all cases, common sense should prevail, and ill persons should not further jeopardize their health by fasting."
("Questions and Answers about Lent and Lenten Practices," USCCB)
I'm in my 60s, and diabetic, so fasting isn't an option for me. I like to eat, so that might seem like good news. But since fasting is out, I need to find something to take its place.

Something Extra for Lent

"What are you giving up for Lent" is a common question: and the start of some jokes, like "I'm giving up skydiving for Lent."

Subtracting something from daily routines for Lent is an option, but I try to add something instead. Some years it's been praying a chaplet for the duration. I haven't made up my mind what this year's project will be.

I'd better decide soon, though: Whatever I do, it starts Wednesday.

More, from the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops):
Related posts:

No comments:

Like it? Pin it, Plus it, - - -

Pinterest: My Stuff, and More


Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store

Popular Posts

Label Cloud

1277 abortion ADD ADHD-Inattentive Adoration Chapel Advent Afghanistan Africa America Amoris Laetitia angels animals annulment Annunciation anti-catholicism Antichrist apocalyptic ideas apparitions archaeology architecture Arianism art Asperger syndrome assumptions asteroid astronomy Australia authority balance and moderation baptism being Catholic beliefs bias Bible Bible and Catechism bioethics biology blogs brain Brazil business Canada capital punishment Caritas in Veritate Catechism Catholic Church Catholic counter-culture Catholicism change happens charisms charity Chile China Christianity Christmas citizenship climate change climatology cloning comets common good common sense Communion community compassion confirmation conscience conversion Corpus Christi cosmology creation credibility crime crucifix Crucifixion Cuba culture dance dark night of the soul death depression designer babies despair detachment devotion discipline disease diversity divination Divine Mercy divorce Docetism domestic church dualism duty Easter economics education elections emotions England entertainment environmental issues Epiphany Establishment Clause ethics ethnicity Eucharist eugenics Europe evangelizing evolution exobiology exoplanets exorcism extremophiles faith faith and works family Father's Day Faust Faustus fear of the Lord fiction Final Judgment First Amendment forgiveness Fortnight For Freedom free will freedom fun genetics genocide geoengineering geology getting a grip global Gnosticism God God's will good judgment government gratitude great commission guest post guilt Haiti Halloween happiness hate health Heaven Hell HHS hierarchy history holidays Holy Family Holy See Holy Spirit holy water home schooling hope humility humor hypocrisy idolatry image of God images Immaculate Conception immigrants in the news Incarnation Independence Day India information technology Internet Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jesus John Paul II joy just war justice Kansas Kenya Knights of Columbus knowledge Korea language Last Judgment last things law learning Lent Lenten Chaplet life issues love magi magic Magisterium Manichaeism marriage martyrs Mary Mass materialism media medicine meditation Memorial Day mercy meteor meteorology Mexico Minnesota miracles Missouri moderation modesty Monophysitism Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother's Day movies music Muslims myth natural law neighbor Nestorianism New Year's Eve New Zealand news Nietzsche obedience Oceania organization original sin paleontology parish Parousia penance penitence Pentecost Philippines physical disability physics pilgrimage politics Pope Pope in Germany 2011 population growth positive law poverty prayer predestination presumption pride priests prophets prostitution Providence Purgatory purpose quantum entanglement quotes reason redemption reflections relics religion religious freedom repentance Resurrection robots Roman Missal Third Edition rosaries rules sacramentals Sacraments Saints salvation schools science secondary causes SETI sex shrines sin slavery social justice solar planets soul South Sudan space aliens space exploration Spain spirituality stem cell research stereotypes stewardship stories storm Sudan suicide Sunday obligation superstition symbols technology temptation terraforming the establishment the human condition tolerance Tradition traffic Transfiguration Transubstantiation travel Trinity trust truth uncertainty United Kingdom universal destination of goods vacation Vatican Vatican II veneration vengeance Veterans Day videos virtue vlog vocations voting war warp drive theory wealth weather wisdom within reason work worship writing

Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

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.