So, what am I doing for Lent?
Some folks in my circles are going offline for Lent — refraining from socializing online. That's a good idea: but I won't be changing my online habits. Not much, anyway.
It's not that I can't give up my online 'fix:' much of what I do online involves this blog, prayer, or other related activities. In a sense, this is my "work:" and not something I think it's prudent to stop during Lent.
Giving up some optional pleasure for Lent is a good way to unite "... to the mystery of Jesus in the desert." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 540)
It's a sort of penance: "an act of self-mortification or devotion performed voluntarily to show sorrow for a sin or other wrongdoing." (thefreedictionary.com)
Despite the impression some folks give, "blessed are the miserable" isn't one of the Beatitudes. (Matthew 5:3-12)
It's like I've said: despondency isn't a virtue. That odd notion isn't limited to religious kooks, by the way, and that's another topic. (June 3, 2012; January 8, 2012)
Getting back to penance: it's part of the conversion, penance, and satisfaction process we need when we mess up our relationship with God. (Catechism, 1431-1470, particularly 1432)
That conversion and penance isn't about 'acting sorry.' Doing stuff that others can see might be useful, or not. What matters is what happens inside me, turning my thoughts and desires away from offenses against truth and reason; and toward God. (Catechism, 1430-1432)
This interior penance gets done — mainly — by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. That works on conversion that relates to myself, God, and others. (Catechism, 1434)
Penance is an important part of Lent, but it's not all that's going on this season:
"The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church's penitential practice.36 These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works)."
Having access to two millennia of assorted spiritual exercises is a good thing: but a tad overwhelming. The trick isn't finding something: it's finding something that I can understand well enough to do. That's a good sort of problem to have, though: and I've got a few days before Lent starts.
I've found some good resources, and figure that I'll be working at upgrading my prayer life.
Ash Wednesday is this week: which is my deadline for deciding what I'll do for Lent, and getting last year's palms to the church.
And that's yet another topic.
More of my take on Lent:
- "Jesus: Love, Death, and All That"
(March 16, 2014)
- "Addition, Subtraction, and Lent"
(March 2, 2014)
- "Still Learning to Pray"
(February 17, 2013)
- "Giving Up Skydiving for Lent"
(February 13, 2013)
- "First Sunday in Lent; God is Reclaiming His Broken Creation"
(February 26, 2012)