Monday, March 22, 2004

To observe or not to observe For the past few years, I'd given up the internet for Lent. I found it a refreshing break from the time psent on the computer, and a welcome break from the emotions stirred up all too often. This year, I've stayed online (which I hope was a good choice). I've noticed a few Lent-abstaining bloggers who have posted on Sundays or last Friday. I've also been in a few discussions through the years about the status of Sundays in Lent. These have been my understandings: - Lent runs from the first Sunday through sunset on Holy Thursday: 40 days - The four days prior to Lent are a warm-up period: part of Lent, but unnumbered. Sort of like preseason baseball: getting your act together before the daily grind hits. - Observances of giving up food, drink, and/or chemicals (such as nicotine) count as items of fasting (all substances) or as abstinence (single items). Example: a person who says she "fasts" from chocolate during Lent is not fasting. She is abstaining. Abstinence is not one of the three Lenten pillars -- it doesn't count as fasting per se. - Lots of people "do something positive" for Lent: read the Bible, go to daily Mass, pray the rosary daily, etc.. Question: If a person has committed to daily bible reading, would that person be keeping the spirit of Lent by foregoing it on Sundays or on St Joseph's Day? Do you get my drift here? At the risk of being too much of a rigorist, when I "give something up" for Lent, I give it up. Not on Sundays. Not on feasts. I think I can even apply this to abstaining from things like sugar or alcohol. On my feast day, I went out to lunch with my family (including my sister, who's in town) and though I ordered a nice seafood sampler, I abstained from dessert. I don't think I violated the festive nature of the day. I heard of a priest who once told his parish not to give up anything for Lent they weren't prepared to give up for the rest of their lives. The pont is to use Lent to make ourselves better Christians, not part-time ascetics. Any thoughts?

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