Several of my co-workers are Catholic; and a few days ago I heard them discussing Lent.
One said she had given up beer for Lent, but would likely switch to vodka. It didn’t seem like much of a sacrifice … though this person has given more time and attention to the church than I ever will, so I am not one to judge.
It seems like most discussions of Lent I hear have a somewhat farcical edge, like the one above. Few of them ever seem to involve real self-denial. Perhaps that has gone by the wayside. (Or perhaps I do not travel in deeply religious circles, which is the most likely answer.)
My grandparents, as previously discussed, were not deeply religious either. However, Lent made its way into their consciousness each February. Or at least it did in a couple Februaries for which I have calendar entries, covering the full 15-year scope of my grandpa’s calendars.
This raises an interesting question for me: What would my grandparents and great-grandma have given up for Lent?
Their lives were pretty plain-Jane, and not long in indulgences to begin with. Perhaps my grandfather gave up saying “damn,” or eating sauerbraten, or drinking the half-beers he used to split with my great-grandmother.
Or maybe, by my dad’s telling, they gave up nothing at all:
I have no recollection of anyone giving up anything for Lent. If anyone did, it would have been Grossee, but I don’t remember anything being different at mealtime or any other time during Lent. No one ever went to any sort of Ash Wednesday service (don’t think Springdale Methodist had one).
I suppose it’s possible that my grandfather put Lent on his calendar out of some sense of civic obligation. But, I still can’t help but wonder whether he actually did make a commitment to give something up.
If I really had my act together, I’d check his calendars 40 days later and see if he left a record of reveling in anything. I’m pretty sure he didn’t do that, though.
I dunno. I guess I’ll leave the topic there and go indulge in one of the fleshly sins I give in to year-round.