Tag Archives: Lent

(Not really) Obligatory Post

It’s Ash Wednesday. Taking the kidlets to church in the evening. Because I know you were wondering.

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(Heh. Heh. Heh. We’ll see, I guess!)

As I said in a previous post, I’m not really into telling people what to do for Lent or really reporting what I do for Lent. It’s just not how I roll. If you really want suggestions, go to The Catholic Gentleman— he breaks it down old school.

I’ll never forget trying to explain Lent to a friend who wasn’t religious (Christian, though– I’ll withhold the denomination, because I have no idea if she’s representative of the denomination). I mentioned that we fast and abstain, and a perplexed look washed over her face. She asked, “but what if you’re married??”

o.O

(See, in our public school district, we had what I now refer to as an “abstinence first” sex ed curriculum. We were told about artificial birth control methods, but refraining from sex was always discussed as the first and safest option. That’s why I get so irked when people slam sex ed in public schools: it’s not a “how-to” class everywhere you go. Yeesh!)

Anyways, what really draws me in– and I guess that’s the English teacher still in me– is the word ‘abstain.’ Clearly its meaning is dependent on your frame to reference: my friend and I… (you know what? It’s a holy day– I’ll skip the ‘meat’ joke and let you form it yourself). As I was saying, the basic definition is:

ab·stain  [ab-steyn]

verb (used without object)
1. to hold oneself back voluntarily, especially from something regarded as improper or unhealthy (usually followed by from): to abstain from eating meat.
2. to refrain from casting one’s vote: a referendum in which two delegates abstained.
Origin: 
1350- 1400;  Middle English abste ( i ) nen  < Middle French abstenir  ≪ Latin abstinēre,  equivalent to abs-abs- + -tinēre,  combining form of tenēre  to hold, keep

Related forms
non·ab·stain·ing, adjective
o·ver·ab·stain, verb (used without object)

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(New York abstains… courteously. Like definition #2. See how that works? Again, a .gif would be awesome.)
It means little to me to abstain from eating meat these days- I end up going with meatless meals up to 3 times a week. So I’m looking for other things to abstain from:
1. Noise: a recent turn of slang has been to shove off unpleasantness with “f*** that noise.” I, for one, LOVE it, and am not afraid to use the phrase unasterisked. But we really do fill our lives with noise, and it becomes apparent when Lent rolls around and we’re forced to examine our attachments. I always say that I turn on the TV for the noise, and usually end up getting sucked in for hours with shows I’ve already seen and items tenuously relevant to my interests, while the Hubs is totally ok with nothing going on in the background. The kidlets are taking after me that way, and this is a good way to do a course correction. I will not, however, be doing the giving up of the TV, because that’s a tad extreme. I will watch the shows the Hubs and I enjoy, but we invested in the DVR and will use it judiciously.
2. Satiety: Any nutritionist will tell you that you shouldn’t starve yourself, and yet some people will suppose they are on a religious ‘high road’ by skipping food often during a fasting period. I mentioned in another post that there should be a balance of fasting and feasting– Jews at Yom Kippur and Muslims during Ramadan have got this quite figured out. Feeling a pang of hunger isn’t the end of the world, but maybe we can lay off the 2nd and 3rd helping, the 4th and 5th ‘extra something’ between meals. Stop stuffing.
3. Distraction: This one is huge. What are we avoiding with the visual and aural noise? What better stuff can take the place of the not-better stuff that we use to fill our days? I’ve been complaining about how I feel as though I never have time to keep the house clean or keep up with my kids: what can I do to change that? (Trust me– the irony is not lost on me here… but I decided I can get this out and be done with it. Besides, in the grand scheme of things, this blog doesn’t take an overwhelming amount of time. It’s the more instantaneous social media that really messes with me.)
Here’s to filling up our days with the most useful actions, and abstaining (courteously) from what is not useful.

Let’s get this show on the road…

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We’re a week away from Lent, folks! It’s actually a skosh late this year as compared to last year, so it shouldn’t spring up on anyone. It never “springs up” on us, to be honest: I attend a Traditional Latin Mass chapel, and there are three Sundays before Ash Wednesday that illustrate and discuss Lent. My brother-in-law called it “pre-gaming Lent,” which is just silly enough to be memorable but not offensive. 

As a kid, it was all about giving something up: bubble gum, candy. My parents never kept much of either around anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal. In college I learned about other options: adding prayer, doing community service. My mind was blown at the idea of giving up something that wasn’t food, let alone this other stuff (I gave up cursing– I had acquired quite the potty mouth! Not a good move for a prospective teacher). 

Now that I’m a grown-up (and no, I didn’t type that with a straight face), I not only have to worry about my own Lenten discipline, but that of my children– kids who I think should have a better sense of what Lent means than I did at their age. The Hubs and I discussed how religious complacency has settled in: Mass, Sunday School for Toughie, who will be receiving First Communion in May… but that’s about it. 

I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions only in January: I do them in August, in preparation for the new school year (I started as a teacher, but I find it’s important to do them as a parent of school-age children); I do them in November, when Advent begins a new liturgical year; and I do them before Lent begins. I have done the 40 bags in 40 days Challenge, and while it’s been fun and effective, I’ve been fluttering with FlyLady since the New Year to the point where it’s not much of a sacrifice for me to ditch clutter. In fact, most of my vices–cursing included– are not so integrated into my life that giving them up is much of a sacrifice… the downside of not having an addictive personality, if ever there was one.And I am not interested in the Lenten crafty item– I have enough artwork from the kids as it is! 

What I do plan to emphasize this year is the balance of fasting and feasting. So we’ll have a Mardi Gras “party” next Tuesday. We’ll be ok with the “Sunday Rule” (honestly– something I had never heard of as a kid!), We’ll probably get together for St. Patrick’s Day. Then the days of limited TV or no dessert don’t seem like punishment but the trade-off they are meant to be. 

For more info, and maybe some suggestions, check out my fave homeschooling mama

Here’s to raising children in the traditions we hold dear, rather than dragging them through rules and regulations kicking and screaming.