Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Confessions of a bad-Catholic girl on Ash Wednesday...

Today marks the beginning of Lent. It’s Ash Wednesday.The day when all good Catholics are summoned to church service to receive ashes on your forehead in the sign of a cross.

The ashes come from palm branches from the prior year’s Palm Sunday festival that have been blessed and burned to ash. The ashes are placed in a bowl and the priest uses those ashes to place the cross on your head while reciting:
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Happy thoughts for a Wednesday afternoon, right? 

And the cross?  That’s assuming the priest has smallish fingers and actually makes a cross. Most times, it looks like a giant smudge. 

What happens when bad-semi-practicing Catholics like myself don’t go to Ash Wednesday services?  Do you still give up something for Lent and practice the penance of sacrifice and fasting so that you can show your service and dedication to the Lord? I’ve done this nearly every year since I was a child. Most times, you give up something you love: chocolate, hamburgers, and the like. Done all that. Needed something that was more of a challenge.
One year, I gave up coffee. After forty-days without caffeine, my students came to class on the Monday after Easter Sunday and promptly handed me FOUR Venti Starbucks espresso drinks and made me promise never to do that again. I haven’t.
Starbucks cannot spell my name...
Another year, at the suggestion of a co-worker and good Catholic son, I gave up evil thoughts about others. He tried to cure the crankiness. Didn’t work. And you want to know why? He set me up! Totally. He knew me too well and set me up to fail.  He knew it wouldn’t work and encouraged me to take this “no evil thoughts” challenge only so that he could catch me when I was trying really hard not to think of all the horrible things I wanted to do to someone when they pissed me off. Then he pointed and laughed. And made me say ten Hail Mary’s to repent. By the end of the week I was just reciting the prayer all day long.  

So here I am again at a cross-roads. What do I give up and sacrifice? Of course, it has to be something that I can actually live without. But that’s not really doing the full-Lent if you can really do without it, right? See why I’m stuck? Who made this so hard? And of course, when you don’t do what you are supposed to do, you have that good ol’ Catholic guilt! Seriously, I can’t take it!

Isn’t there a new religion called Catholic Lite? All of the celebrations and half of the guilt? 


So of course, I send a chat to said friend who wanted to see me fail because who else to seek advice about this than someone who teaches Catechism classes and is a youth leader? Here’s what he challenged. 

Give up being lazy. 

Damn! He does know me. And psychic too! The Hubster and I were just talking about doing the whole old people walk around the block after dinner because our bodies are getting old. Or we're out of shape. Maybe both. 

The activity is to walk every day during the week. Okay, I can get with that. I think. Except for Mondays when I get home too late, so maybe I’ll shift Monday to Saturday and take Sunday/Monday off. Dammit! See? I’m already making exceptions… 

Here’s the religious spin:

Each day you do a decade of the rosary...each week you will have done a mystery.
"4 weeks....4 mysteries. Then you’ll be in such a groove that you’ll do the last mystery on your own. As a reborn daughter of the faith."

Well, I’ll be some kind of a groove. I hope it’s not disguised as a ditch on the side of the road because my body has gone into shock because I’m walking and has fallen into said groove. We shall see what happens.

So there go you people. My forty-day challenge to give up being lazy, walk, pray, and get that leaky pipeline to heaven repaired. I'll keep you posted. 

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