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Posts Tagged ‘Catholicism’

It’s Lent!

I get very excited for Lent, it’s my favorite time of the year. I’m certain that a post shall ensue explaining in great detail why I think Lent, which most people associate with dark misery, is one of the best times in the Christian calendar. (I’m pretty sure whenever I giddily say, “I love Lent” my atheist friends think to themselves about how this is just proof of religion’s deep brainwashing because what rational person could like willingly going without?)

However, in the meantime, I’m just going to discuss a few reasons why you should consider observing Lent and some fun tips for doing it.

Why you should give up something for Lent:

1) Lent is not only for Catholics. Catholics have more specific traditions around it, but as Protestant, it wasn’t until I was older that I realized that it was simply a Christian tradition. I’m sure that the atheist or a member of another religion could also benefit from certain aspects of Lent without feeling all of the theology around it.

2) Giving something up doesn’t just have to be something you desperately like (because you think you don’t deserve to be happy) or something you don’t care about (because you think you should do this but you really don’t want to put in effort). The point is not to just take something random out of your life, but take out an aspect of your life that you feel that you place too much value on or is unhealthy for you. Example: a cliché is giving up chocolate for Lent. I’ve done that once, but I didn’t do it because I liked it, but it was easy to cut out, I did it because I had this habit when I was little, of every time I was in the kitchen, of sneaking my hand into a chocolate chip jar. Obviously, this was a habit that it was good to break.

3) Lent is a wonderful time to give yourself extra motivation to achieve goals. Do you want to diet? Take out carbs. Do you want to cook more for yourself? Take out frozen dinners.

4) You don’t just need to take things out, you can add things in! Exercise, reading the Bible, cleaning your room on a regular basis, praying for a set amount of time every night. Get creative!

5) Most people agree that creating goals and breaking bad habits help if you are accountable to someone. Hence the benefit of Lent, you find yourself being accountable to God.

6) While I do go back to many of my less-than-ideal habits after Lent, I’ve found that they never have quite the same hold on me afterwards, and this is one of the most important things that you can get out of Lent.

7) Lent is a time when you can try to decrease the noise that fills your life, take out distractions or habits that you’re embarrassed about (Compulsive angry birds player, binge Netflix watcher, I’m talking to you…), and you find that you have more room in your life for God and for yourself! It also is a time when you can learn that the things you think you “need” are sometimes dispensable, and you are not bound to these habits that you don’t like.

Stay tuned! Tomorrow will be a post on choosing what to give up/add in and for actually living out the goals.

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My family and I have been adjusting this year to a new and unexpected situation.  Like many families, we have often found that one member of the family who goes off in that unexpected path that really no one in the family knows what to do with.  My sister became a cheerleader this year.

All in all, I think we’ve taken it rather well, especially considering that she sees dinner time as her personal practice time (five-six-seven-eight!).  However, in the week leading up to the big Thanksgiving game, something happened that threw us for a loop.  The cheerleaders and football players were going to a prayer service at St. Mary’s Church in our town.

Wait what…?

Yes, a school-sponosered prayer service for the football players and cheerleaders, not only religious but denominational.  Now…my family is Protestant and attends a UCC Church (United Church of Christ), how was my sister going to know the prayers or what to do?  We live in a predominantly Catholic town, was she going to be the only person who didn’t know what to do?  Were they going to have communion? Non-Catholics aren’t allowed to be given communion in a Catholic Church, what was she going to do if that happened?  She wasn’t worried or flustered, but my mother and I were.  And what about if there were any Jewish or Islamic team members?  Or atheist members who had never been in a church at all?  They would all feel even more out of place.  While no one would likely be forced to participate if they didn’t want to, it’s not really right to put someone in that situation where they have to break ranks, where they should feel different and left out at the very moment when the emphasis should be on the team.  It turned out fine, but I still couldn’t wrap my head around it, I was stunned more than actually objecting.

You’re probably thinking my town is superconservative, that we must live in the Bible belt or something.  Nope, my town is a liberal New England town.  In fact, in this town, I’ve known teachers who receive furious e-mails from parents when they use AD or BC instead of CE or BCE.

Several years ago, my classmates (I was at a different school) were supposed to go on a field trip to see a movie/play (I put / because I don’t remember which) in the winter.  It was Miracle on 34th street.  It was a story about Santa Clause.  Parents were outraged, there was a whole fuss and the trip got cancelled.  How dare they do a school-sponsored trip to see something about Santa Clause therefore about Christmas and therefore Christian?  This is a public school after all. 

So heaven forbid that our children see Miracle on 34th street…but a prayer service is okay.

I don’t get it. 

I’ve thrown up my hands in confusion.  I can no longer see the method in the madness as to what it is we choose to get outraged and offended about.  That is what I am left with, simple bemusement.

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