See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Monday, February 23, 2009

Anticipating Lent.


I have non-practicing Catholic friends who still "give things up" for Lent, and kind of make a big deal about it too. They are sweet. Even though they have no time for the Church, they will give up candy or smokes for Lent - or simply diet. That's cool - their intentions are good.
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Still, I've always thought the focus on giving up stuff for Lent should begin with giving up sin first; then one's self-denial may actually turn out to be efficacious.
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Contemporary devotion seems to have shifted away from self-denial as penance, only to emphasise charitable works and alms-giving, as an alternative or a practice in addition to fasting. This is all very good of course, and presents a more positive spin upon traditional self-denial - it just doesn't sound as negative.
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Nevertheless, prayer and alms-giving alone require a certain amount of self-denial. ("Prayer and self-indulgence are incompatible" said Teresa of Avila.) For instance, taking more time for prayer may mean reworking one's schedule, or using a portion of one's leisure time for prayer and spiritual reading. Likewise, alms-giving or works of charity imply denying something for oneself, be it time, money, or social life. Naturally, all of our "extras" are in addition to the observance the Church mandates for the faithful during Lent, therefore giving up candy just might be a huge voluntary penance for someone to "offer up".
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Giving up or limiting an attachment to habits such as smoking, excessive Internet use, sweets, favorite foods, alcohol and other pleasures one indulges in, is in fact mortification which can help to free one for the practice of a more devout life. Such practices may be necessary for a person's ongoing conversion and sanctification, while preparing the generous soul to practice prayer more authentically, leading to a more fruitful life of charity. This, it seems to me, is pretty much the point of Lent... Conversion.

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But giving up candy while living in sin makes no sense. So I'm going to try and give up sin. Please keep me in your prayers.

7 comments:

  1. But for me the candy-sweets have BECOME the sin. -Big time outta control sin.
    Gluttony is disobediant, which produces sloth. There are also other issues caused by gluttony.
    Remember that nasty scene in the garden. It was about not doing what you are told to do. A lack of obedience is a loss of holiness.
    With two diabetic parents , my eating disorder surely WILL send me to hell as a deadly sin, one that I will never overcome ,but a sin that I must try to work on none the less.
    For me this "candy " issue is very serious.
    My poor father has fought it all of his life ,and said that he will only "beat it" when they hammer the nails into his coffin - I can relate.

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  2. Hey, you stole my idea! I'M giving up Sin for Lent! (I wanna be a Saint by Easter...)

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  3. Man, I was planning on giving up sin for Lent too, but if I do, it'll look like I'm just "joining up" and following the crowd.

    I guess instead of giving up sin, I'll work on increasing virtue. Ha!

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  4. Prayers here for your journey. I've pared my massive Lenten Intentions Bibliography or prior years into 3 items. I will post on Thursday.

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  5. Larry - I'll try that too.
    Cath - here too.
    Adoro - pray for me to stop stealing.
    Belinda - I've said enough.

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  6. "Still, I've always thought the focus on giving up stuff for Lent should begin with giving up sin first; then one's self-denial may actually turn out to be efficacious."

    Amen to that!

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  7. Nice post and comments.
    Belinda, don't lose heart. All things are possible with God. :>

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