Cawley: Giving up Lent for Lent

For many Catholics, Lent means giving up something they enjoy for 40 days, or practicing self-denial in keeping with their faith.

Although raised Catholic, I’ve never really tried to give up anything for that 40-day period. So, I guess it’s safe to say I’ve effectively chosen to give up Lent each year for Lent.

Lent officially began this week on Ash Wednesday and will conclude on the Thursday before Easter Sunday, known to practicing Catholics as Holy Thursday. Cue the judgment — I know I’m not the most devout — but I had to look up that information, which is probably common knowledge for many.

According to Catholic News Agency, by sacrificing small things, as well as fasting, praying and giving to charity during Lent, Catholics are invited to experience a period of prayer like the one Jesus experienced during his 40 days in the desert following his baptism, where he fasted and prayed and was allegedly tempted by Satan three times.

Each year, during Lent, I’ve made the offensive, but I guess, common joke, as evidenced by my colleague Steve’s column on Lent earlier this week, that I do, in fact, give up something each year.

In the past, I’ve given up foods I don’t like, such as spinach and kale, or yoga, an exercise I’ve only done on a few occasions but wasn’t exactly a star pupil in any of those classes. I’d advise against hot yoga for beginners — you might almost pass out.

One of my college classmates tweeted this week that she would make an I’m giving up men for Lent joke, concluding with “but let’s be honest I did that years ago,” prompting me to stop scrolling, laugh and think same. If anything articulates a woman’s frustration at a lack of promising dating prospects out there, it’s that simple tweet.

I get the concept and I respect that people do engage in denying themselves of something they find pleasurable each year. If I opted to give up my daily coffee or the option to indulge in the occasional piece of chocolate on a tough day, I can definitely see how that could be difficult or even make for a miserable 40 days.

I can also see how giving up luxuries would bring the devout some understanding of  Jesus’ own sacrifice and make them feel closer to him. After all, experts say shared pain and suffering brings people together.  

But it’s just not for me.

Life brings enough of its own challenges without not having something nice to look forward to. So eat the chocolate. Give up the men, and the kale, and enjoy your next 40 days — as God intended.   


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