With yesterday's applications of ashes, lent begins.
Over the last few years, instead on focusing on the traditional "giving up" of something, I've focused on doing something positive that would encourage my faith growth. This year, I've decided to do more reading and meditating upon some spiritually-oriented books.
I'm also not going to log in to Facebook during lent, although I don't consider that actually giving something up. It feels more like a welcome break.
But if I did give up something, or if I had a friend that decided to give up something, I'd be tempted to do what Father James Martin, SJ does: He lets his Jewish friends choose for him. This year his friends have decided that for 40 days, he won't be consuming Sno balls,
wintergreen flavoring, and snow peas. Here's his story as told to Michelle Norris of NPR:
Father JAMES MARTIN (NPR Commentator): When I was in college, my Jewish roommates used to tell me what to give up for Lent. Many of my friends at the University of Pennsylvania took an avid interest in my Catholicism. Some would join me at Mass on Sundays where I showed them how to bless themselves, when to sit and stand, and most importantly, how not to slam the kneelers. One winter's night as we sat at our favorite bar, the topic of Lent came up. When I told my housemates about the Christian practice of giving things up they observed that selecting your own penitence seemed far too easy.
Wouldn't it be better, my friend Rob said, if someone else told you what to give up? He had a point. During the 40 days of Lent, Christians make scarifies for many reasons, to rid themselves of a nasty habit, to identify more with poor, or to save money for charity. But since those sacrifices are self-imposed, they are often easier than they could be. So when my roommate suggested that they decide my penance, I agreed. It seemed a more challenging spiritual discipline. Besides, I was curious about what they would choose. Continue reading here.I think I'd be really good at functioning as the friend that gets to choose what