I was reading back through an old post about Lent when it dawned on me I needed to pull the trigger on this year’s Lenten resolutions. As I explained here there are 3 things that need to happen: I need to 1) stop doing something, 2) start doing something and 3) something that is kept private. (i.e. I can’t give up potato chips and make that the “private” thing because it would become apparent very quickly as I’d be in the police notes pretty fast.)
So why after all these years do I still cling to making Lenten resolutions? For those not familiar with the Baltimore Catechism, I invite you to look over the following:
This is the “beginner” version of the Baltimore Catechism. Anyone who went through similar formation can still do the rapid-fire answers to questions like, “WHO MADE YOU?” and “WHY DID GOD MAKE YOU?”
After that you graduated to an expanded version, the St. Joseph’s Baltimore Catechism. That contained more of the same on an expanded basis. More to memorize. More to stand up and parrot back to Here-Comes-Sister-Celestine-Riding-On-A-Jellybean. (Our idea of really giving the nuns a hard time.)
There is something to be said for using rote memorization to train the memory but when I look back at these images I don’t feel so much proud of having a well-trained mind as horror at what kind of ideas we were trained with.
I have a dear friend who is my sherpa guide to hedonistic consumption. I like to tell him he is “an occasion of sin” because he tempts me towards all kinds of impurities like expensive linens and splurging on gourmet cheeses and wines. My knee-jerk reaction toward what I perceive as excess was based on the following:
Yeah, television is definitely an occasion of sin. “Bonanza” was pretty scandalous. Ed Sullivan? Don’t get me started. Pure filth.
John would be considered a “BAD COMPANION!”
He’s actually a pretty good companion. (We rarely sneak a cigarette.) He’s taught me a lot about myself, including that we all deserve to have and enjoy nice things without beating ourselves up about it.
I’m all for a spring housecleaning of the soul but this year feels different. I’ve been sorting receipts for taxes and am appalled at the number of office visits, doctor visits, etc. that have piled up over the past year, and continue into this year. My health has really sucked for the past 18 months (BTW, I’d be happy to give up lumbar steroid spinals for Lent) and I never did buy in to that “all pain and suffering can be offered up…will strengthen your faith” BS. So what to do for Lent when I already feel quite full-up with the existing penances in my life? I think I’ll flip things and make this Lent a time for feeding my soul instead purging all my “impurities” (like my lust for potato chips). I’m going to find things that nourish my heart, help me cope with my aches and strengthen my beliefs and values. I’m going to replenish my tool chest of life and faith skills. While that approach is not in sync with the Baltimore Catechism I believe if I can do that for 40 days I’ll come out on the other end as a stronger, better, faith-filled person – and that is what I believe to be the purpose of Lent.