Each Friday (or Saturday as the case might be), I post Flashback Friday, where I use St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Examen as a guide and usually ask the following questions: For what are you least grateful this past week? For what are you most grateful this past week?
That it’s Lent and that I’m no longer Catholic: Last night I ran into the priest of the parish where my wife and I used to go to Mass at the wine and spirits store (I know sounds like the setup for a joke, doesn’t it, but it isn’t). He just said “Hello,” and that was all. As I was walking out of the store and down the street, I encountered a parishioner from the same church, who joked with me since I was texting that I obviously hadn’t given up texting for Lent. Neither one asked me why I hadn’t been to Mass in over a year. Others who haven’t asked about our absence from Mass include those from a small Bible study group we were involved with for several months in 2010.
This morning I told my wife I should have quipped to the parishioner: “Nope, but I have given up church for Lent.” She said that we’re not giving up church, that we still need to find another church. However, the search isn’t going to start this weekend as I’m going to my parents to watch the Daytona 500 with my dad on Sunday. Yep, I’ve got my priorities straight: NASCAR, NASCAR, NASCAR…and hey, they’ll have a prayer before the starts.
But seriously, I do miss the fish frys and the “giving up” something for Lent to remind me of what I have and the sacrifice that Jesus made on the Cross. I also miss the liturgy, although since we went to Mass last, it has changed. As for why we’re not Catholic anymore, except in our information listing on Facebook (at least until shortly after I hit “publish” on this post and change it to “Lapsed Catholic,”) it’s a long, complicated story, but does have partially to do with our missing Mass for over a year (“I wouldn’t say I’ve been ‘missing’ it, Bob.”) and no one even noticing. The sense of community certainly is lost when there is no community.
That it’s Lent and that I’m no longer Catholic: I don’t miss the ashes on my forehead and people asking me what the hell that is about or that I have dirt on my forehead, then trying to explain the whole “ashes to ashes” thing. Also as much as I miss fish frys, I don’t miss “giving up” meat on the Fridays of Lent. I have to say I really enjoyed hot wings last night at a local restaurant, along with a chocolate martini, since I’m not giving up chocolate or alcohol either, without any guilt. Oh, and guilt, I don’t miss that either, although really that doesn’t play as big a part in Catholicism, at least to the one I knew (and yes, loved at one time), as one might think.
I could say a lot more and some day I’ll say it, but for today, I’m going to leave it there — unfinished.
So as always, I’ll leave you with the questions: For what are you least grateful and most grateful this past week? Are you of a liturgical tradition where you “give up” something for Lent? If so, what are you giving up for Lent?