Lent Stories

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Hey Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

As promised here is what everyone had to say on the topic of giving something up for Lent:

Annie explained the whole "cheating on Sundays" thing:

"If you add the Sundays, lent would be 46 days long. Lent lasts six and 2/3 weeks: 6 weeks of 6 days each - 36, plus Ash Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Sundays are never penitential because they celebrate the resurrection of Christ, which is joyous.

Advent is also a penitential season, too, but no one seems to knows that anymore. The conservative Catholics in my family rail against that sometimes.

So there's my theological contribution to the debate. You can't use artificial birth control, either.


Still bitter at the CCD kids who used to break my crayons and write all over my desk, then slink off to their loosey-goosey public schools while the Catholic school kids got in trouble."

Then other people weighed in with suggestions on what to give up and stories of their own.

Anne said:

"My 8th grade English teacher was my personal mentor for many years, and told me a good piece of advice: she considered "sacrifice" to be a very dirty word. When someone says they sacrificed something for you, they're really just emotionally manipulating you to get you to do something differently, thereby nullifying its altruism. In this sense, you shouldn't sacrifice something - you should make a consorted effort to shift your paradigm.

A few years ago in the interest of playing along with the Lent game (and for other familial reasons), I gave up alcohol (which was a challenge to say the least, especially since I was writing a nightlife feature for a newspaper at the time). But the experience was really encouraging and since then, I've officially retained practicing "Sober in October" annually, making Halloween (the end of the dry challenge) the best holiday of the year and have a few friends that have joined me in teetotaling the tail end of autumn.

And because I like to pretend to be someone who doesn't shy away from a challenge, as a resolution this year I decided to give up expletives. Lots of folks focus on restricting what goes in their mouth, so I figured I'd practice filtering what comes out. Thinking of bad words as a vice has completely boggled my sense of speaking freely, and has forced me to get really creative with...expressing emotion."

Laura said:

"Give up 'The Knot' for Lent. If you're reading it. Which I hope you're not."

Keith had a great story about what happens when you pick the wrong thing to give up for Lent:

"After reading your call for lent stories I have to say it took me back to when I gave up watching tv for an entire year. I think it started during lent. It was in the late nineties and I didn't have cable, lived in rural Georgia, and allowed myself to watch movies. The best broadcasted station I picked up was from Macon, so no big loss.

It was my senior year of college; I organized spades tournaments; and rode my bike, america--a blue cruiser with ape-hanger handlebars, a lot. I grew my life's only sustained facial hair, an amish beard.
Without watching tv, I only heard about Monica Lewinski on the radio and from my friends.

I lived in a stones throw from Flannery O'Connor's grave and visited it often usually at night. I always left a quarter, tails side up, on her marble slab. I would say, here's some liberty for you & smoke my pipe.
my stove was found on the side of the road and sat on bricks in my kitchen. I would make 5 gallon stews my roommates didn't help me eat past the first day. After a week i'd have to throw it out. It was pretty gross to start with: made from left-overs from Piggly Wiggly.

I broke a girl's thumb playing volleyball; deformed it really; she had to have surgery. My bike eventually got stolen. I shaved & graduated.

This was the most eccentric I remember ever being: I'd say lack of tv was to blame. I recall telling people I wanted to be bored for a change. i don't remember reaching any enlightened state of boredom, but I do remember when I started watching tv again being shocked at how special effects and graphics in tv commercials progressed during my year of not watching."

Stephanie illustrated the danger of mixing children and Lent:
"I was planning on ignoring the whole thing but I just put my daughter in a Catholic school and she's being all pious and giving up hot Cheetos (a huge sacrifice) and hogging the computer at night so I'm not going to get away with it.
Why not give up something like Starbucks, or one coffee a day, but focus on saving the 'sin' money so that at the end of Lent you can make a donation to charity? A .99 cent a day hot Cheetos habit would mean a donation of $40 (though it would come from Mom's pocket...). I've come to thing that unless something positive comes of it, all this giving stuff up for Lent just makes us grumpy or angry with ourselves for sliding - it's been decades for me, and I'm sure it hasn't made me a better person. "

And a friend whose name I can't remember said:

"I'm not a big believer in giving things up for Lent, myself. Accurate or not, I feel like I've made sufficient sacrifices in my life that make the world a better place (primarily my non-profit career choice, having kids, doing volunteer work, etc). I've eaten meat on Fridays for many years (though I did skip the chicken at lunch yesterday, but that was primarily because I was eating lunch with a nun).

Naturally, though, as a group's "token Catholic" , I would be asked what I was giving up for Lent. My answer was always the same: "Blow jobs...giving, not getting."

I have another friend who is a little more religious than I who steadfastly refused to give up chocolate for Lent, saying that she couldn't get through Lent without having a period and she couldn't get through a period without chocolate."

Alas, I don't eat Chee-tos but maybe once every five years, I don't buy coffee that often because I'm a cheap bastard, I think giving up chocolate is cliche, I have to watch TV for my job, I don't think I'm too crazy about going on The Knot and that last thing, well, to coin a phrase, I won't even go there.

I think I'm going to give up politics for Lent (a bit belatedly, I know). I know this will be difficult since it's pretty hard to avoid lately but I've found that this election seems to be causing more fighting between friends than any other I've seen. Some things will be unavoidable, like seeing headlines on website and listening to NPR but otherwise I won't click on any political links, comment on any blogs, or discuss them in general from here on out.

Except on Sundays thank god because a Sunday without the Times and Meet the Press is not a Sunday at all.