Today began the next phase of our Liturgical calendar. While I didn't receive ashes until about 7 at night, my Lenten fast and penitential list started at midnight last night. Those that know me will tell you I'm not big on the rules, rather on the values behind those rules. However when it comes to Lent, I become the "liturgical policeman," trying to obey every single little, traditional, inexplicable rule that's been added to the season since the Patristic period. (I just learned that word yesterday, and I really wanted to use it!)
So on my door rests a list of things that I have given up and tasks that I have taken on during the course of Lent. It's far more extreme than most people are used to, but I won't pretend it's a regiment of bread, water, and 14 hours of prayer. The personal tradition of keeping Lent as an intense time of penance and alms-giving comes from my mother, who carried that tradition from my grandparents. During Lent, my mother lives so austere, she would make a Poor Clare question her own vow of poverty. It was only natural that after coming back to my faith, I observe Lent in much the same way.
That's not to say that I think Lent is simply about feeling guilty for the sins of the past year, nor is it a time to rehash New Year's resolutions. It is the observance of how Jesus, before beginning his public ministry, experienced this time of cleansing, for both body and spirit. This time wasn't just for him to feel bad about himself or go to fish fries at the local KoC hall. It was a time of preparation. In this same way, I try to look at Lent as a way to prepare and understand my call to live the Gospel.
And like the other disciples that Jesus called, I know I don't have the ability to do it on my own. So in hopes that the community can help me observe my Lenten obligations, I posted the list on my door, so that everyone would know what I'm trying to give up. That's not to say I want to be like of the hypocrites in today's reading, rather I know I need their help during this time, and the list contains the goals I want to reach with the help of my community.
I'd be interested in hearing what people have chosen to do for their observation of Lent this year. Worst case scenario, you can always look at my list for some ideas.
I am giving up for Lent:
2nd helpings at dinner
1/4 of my wardrobe
Oppression of Canadian Nationals (this one was for the Canadian postulant)
Fast Food - Arby's, Taco Bell, etc. (fish sandwiches excluded)
Some other things that are none of your business!
I am taking on for Lent:
Playing more music during Liturgy
Reading a book a week on anything
Taking more time for personal prayer