Ash Wednesday is next week and I don’t feel ready really. But I’m thinking about what I want to do. I think I’m going to give up Facebook again. Or give it up except for a very strict half hour a day. I haven’t quite decided yet. I’m going to give up chocolate too and try to cut down on all sweets exceptions pre-planned for birthdays and baptismal anniversaries (Anthony and Sophie), holidays and Sundays.
I’m going to try to focus on spiritual reading. If I do any fiction, it might just be starting Les Miserables.
Here are some things I’ve been reading that have helped get me into the Lenten mood:
If you carry the cross willingly, it will carry and lead you to the desired goal where indeed there shall be no more suffering, but here there shall be. If you carry it unwillingly, you create a burden for yourself and increase the load, though still you have to bear it. If you cast away one cross, you will find another and perhaps a heavier one.
Our poverty will need to be a different sort. In order to successfully preach the Good News in postmodern America, we must be impoverished of despair and rich in hope; poor in apathy and rich in love; profoundly broke in mistrust, greed, anger and rich in faith, generosity, and hospitality. In other words, we must adopt and live-out the poverty of Self that Christ himself lived for others. We have nothing to be despairing about; nothing to be angry about; nothing that is our own to hoard; and we have everything we have from God to give and see multiplied in the giving.
A couple of good ones from Simcha: For God, Or for Your Bod? Some Thoughts about Fasting and Dieting
Now, if you are interested in fasting as a spiritual exercise, but are concerned that vanity will blot out any benefits, there are some ways around it. Here’s one example: I can’t fast when I’m pregnant. If I curtail my meals as proscribed, I would pass out (which would not be not good for the baby I’m carrying, or for anyone in or around in the car I’m probably driving). So instead of cutting back on the amount I eat, I will eat only according to nutritional value, and only eat foods I don’t especially like.
You can get creative in a similar was if you are undergoing a voluntary fast. You know, better than anyone else, what you want to eat. Sit down and figure out what you can cut out or replace. You can deny yourself all sorts of pleasures without actually losing weight!
and Lenten Rookie Mistakes I think I’ve probably made most of these at one point or another.
After reading this list of don’t and more don’ts, do you feel a little taken aback—a little less confident about your powers to turn yourself into a better person? Are you starting to think that there’s really no way you can make up for your sins on your own, and that you’re going to need ten boatloads of grace from the Holy Spirit to even get through the day, much less forty days straight?
Ah! Now we’re getting somewhere.