I did a very Catholic Lent this year. It was good. In fact, the best Lent that I can remember. I did the usual thing of giving up Chocolate, but I added a number of other small disciplines, like alcohol,Red meat, sugar – and the biggie – Coffee. It amazing how my Chocolate box, which sits next to my TV, developed a life of it’s own. I swear it spoke to me, especially during CSI…
But the point to this very Catholic Lent was the enormous support I found and could give via ‘new’ media. So many people seemed to be tweeting or facebooking about what they were feeling, struggling, worried about. Such sites as ‘I’m giving it up for Lent’ provided a space that seemed to allow a new lenten solidarity.
It is this solidarity during Lent that has become increasingly difficult. So many Catholics (and others who observe lent) who might have merely paid lipservice and catholic guilt-service to lent in previous years seemed to make a new effort this year.
My parish experience of this lent was of people making a deep personal effort. Many more people pushed themselves, not only to give up chocolate, but to do meaningful penance. Our Lenten Appeal collection was up at least 25% at a time when many parishioners are feeling the pinch of a recession that is biting. We decided to celebrate a Holy hour before Stations on a Friday. I was amazed at how many people – in a small parish – made it a regular feature of their devotion. We re-introduced weekly stations on the Cross – a custom that had died our here over time. At least 20% of the parish attended.
And what of prayer? I personally found this Lenten Period one of deeper prayer – something that my crazy busy-ness causes to become cursory or rote – what a different experience! I realised how much I miss real prayer and how I hunger for that little time in the morning for a Cup of Tea with the Lord.
Everyone I have spoken to about their lenten journey shares a similar story – deeper prayer, more realistic charity and fasting that required deep commitment.
So, what of Easter. I’ve gone back to Coffee. This has been a long lent. I have eaten Red Meat. Had a glass of wine and a whiskey. Had Chocolate and Sugar.
And I can’t say I have enjoyed the return all that much. The Chocolate box isn’t speaking to me as loudly. The Coffee smells better than it tastes. Red meat makes me tired… I wonder if the bigger issues have taken over the stage space occupied by the the things we’re prompted to give up?
The Resurrection leaves us all changed. It must. But I didn’t expect this change!
Happy Easter everyone!