My father is Lutheran and my mother is Catholic, so sometime before I was born it was decided that I would be brought up Catholic and attend Catholic school. I wore the very fashionable plaid school uniforms till 8th grade and was lectured by nuns time and time again when my skirt was not of proper length, not only did I attend church on Sundays but a couple of times during the week as well; joys of going to Catholic school!, Ash Wednesday was always a big to do, next to Christmas ….. my classmates (all 30 of them) and I would compare “ash marks” to see whose was bigger and discuss what we were going to give up for the next forty days. It was always the same “I’m giving up being mean to my sister” or “I’m not going to drink soda” …….midway through the Lenten season all was forgotten and I would slip, but then get reminded that I was going to hell because not only was I weak and couldn’t make the 40 days but due to my disgust for anything seafood I would end up eating something with meat on Fridays.
I remember sitting at the dinner table as a young girl hearing my father excuse my carnivorous rebellion to my mother, stating that eating fish on Fridays during Lent was due to some pope (back in the day) helping out the fishing industry therefore making eating fish acceptable. The case he presented made sense, why wouldn’t I believe him? granted he was the one who also convinced me that fish had ears and if I made a sound while fishing I would scare away all the fish; to a naïve little girl this made sense.
As I got older this “Church-fishing industry conspiracy” always got the best of me and little ole me would go one on one with the head strong nuns when I would show up to school with a salami sandwich on Fridays….I always lost, of course. As an adult I’m still very curious, my dad wasn’t the only one that shared their Fishy Theory, it was almost like a made for television CSI movie. Was there some medieval Pope who had a hankering for fish and declared it to be the go to meal during Lent? either way, I’m still not eating it.
AND…. yes I do know that the purpose of Lent is for prayer, penance, repentance of sins, atonement and self-denial. We also are told to sacrifice something for forty days…..my question is why does this “something” have to be food or of material value. I’ve read so many posts on Facebook stating that they are giving up the internet, fast food, wine, bread, clothes shopping, soda etc. What’s wrong with giving up being inpatient, manipulative,unfaithful, self-righteous for forty days? instead of losing your cool and yelling….work on holding your tongue for forty days. (Jesus did sacrifice more than just a loaf of bread for you right?)
Is it easier to “sacrifice” and go without your favorite Starbucks coffee than to actually come face to face with something within yourself that is your own personal down fall like anger issues, low self-esteem, gossiping and stopping your bad behavior for forty days? can you imagine how your life would be forty days from now if you were able to give up yelling, or being inpatient, or cheating on your spouse or being a doormat for a bully to walk all over. Sure it will be tough, of course you will have to be on your toes making sure you don’t fall….but isn’t sacrifice suppose to be hard? once all is done YOU will have found your own inner strength to get past your struggles, you would have fought those inner demons and in the end have found inner peace.
What’s better than that?