Giving up Lent for Lent

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?

Least grateful

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.

Most Grateful

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?

9 responses to “Giving up Lent for Lent

  1. Very interesting post and discussion. We all seem to be searching for a spiritual connection, whether we still attend a church or not.

    I think the balance is not to throw the baby (God’s Word) out with the bath water (most organized religion). It’s important to find out what matters to the God we worship, than to find what’s ‘comfortable’ for us.

    Personally, I don’t ‘do’ Lent, finding no Scriptural basis for it, but I can understand its appeal to many.

  2. I’m committed to giving up nothing and taking up nothing. I’m going to keep my life in a perfect balance.

  3. I really like the idea of Lent. I’m pretty sure that next month I’ll give up on spending for anything besides anything necessary. It will be my own personal non-Catholic version of Lent.

  4. Pingback: Anything Goes | an unfinished person (in this unfinished universe)

  5. I didn’t realize I had so much in common with Tanya (Dog Eared Copy)–I’m also an “Old Skool” Vatican II-era lapsed Catholic who still observes Lent (except for the churchy parts). I’ve given up buying books–including audiobooks and e-books–till Easter. It’s my tradition. And it IS a sacrifice, as you might imagine.

  6. I was raised Catholic until I was twelve, and when we switched to a Protestant denomination, there were certain things that I really missed about Catholicism. Protestants seem to be all about celebrating the Resurrection – which I agree should be celebrated – but not as good at remembering what happened before Easter morning. I missed the Good Friday services, the Stations of the Cross.

    I don’t currently give anything up for Lent, though I do try to spend some extra time remembering what it is, and talking to the kids about it. And I totally don’t miss Ash Wednesday either!

    • I’m not sure if that’s true of all Protestant denominations, not remembering before Easter morning, but in general, I think you’re right.

      I think it’s good to remember too, even if not “practicing” Lent.

  7. I too am a lapsed Catholic, though of the Old Skool kind: Vatican II had just made it’s mark when I was born and in the first years, there was a lot of “transitioning,” which meant that there was still a lot of the Pre-Vatican II doctrine and dogma being practiced. I agree with you about the sense of true Church (as community) having disappeared from today’s services. I was wracked with guilt and religious neuroticisms bordering on mental instability as a kid; and I am grateful to be free of that. I don’t attend Mass anymore and haven’t been raising my child in the Catholic tradition either (and I think we’re healthier and happier for it.)

    Oddly, I still practice Lent, though not in the public way that ritual would demand. No Mass, no ashes; just a private conversation with God and a personal Convenant. And yes, I still forgo meat on Fridays!

    So, most grateful for: Freedom from guilt.
    Least grateful: The Girl Scouts tormenting me with expensive boxes of cookies when I’m trying “to be good!”

    • Well, it wasn’t just the services that the community disappeared from: it was the “community” itself in which we were involved, although to be fair, it was almost the same with whichever faith community we found in “The Church.”

      Nothing wrong with a private conversation with God or a personal covenant or foregoing meat on Fridays either. We all could do with more of that.

      And, oh, don’t get me started on Girl Scout cookies!