Lent: Not Doing Too Much

Quite a bit happened this week.

We started Lent’s 40-day stay with our Lord in the desert. Not literally. That’s mentioned in today’s Gospel: Mark 1:1215. I’ve talked about deserts and Deuteronomy, penance and porridge, before. (February 11, 2018; February 26, 2017)

There’s a more technical — and more useful, probably — discussion in Catechism of the Catholic Church 538540.

This year’s Ash Wednesday was also St. Valentine’s Day. We’d been celebrating St. Valentine of Rome for centuries before the High Middle Ages. That’s when he got associated with courtly love. His feast day has been February 14 ever since.

St. Valentine of Rome’s portfolio includes engaged couples, beekeepers, happy marriages, love, plague and epilepsy. “Courtly love” is a can of worms I’ll leave for another day.

Starting Lent

If I believed Lent was all about feeling far less than chipper, I’d be pretty impressed with myself.

I’m not. Either chipper or impressed. The latter would make about as much sense as seeing health as a reward for holiness. (January 7, 2018)

I’m not quite sick, not enough to warrant medical attention. But I’m not well either.

It’s frustrating, and kept me home on Ash Wednesday. My wife and #3 daughter did the same, for the same reason.

My son, happily, is less under par, and brought home this year’s cross and necklace. I’m wearing both now. I haven’t timed it, but the ‘chaplet’ prayers are probably the shortest part of my Lenten ‘add-on’ routine.

Keeping it Simple

What I’m doing for Lent is pretty minimal. Along with the chaplet, I read whatever’s on a Lent 2018 Calendar. It’s from the USCCB.

Each day there’s something from the Bible, a prayer, something written in the last two millennia. That sort of thing.

There’s a printable copy: six sheets/pages. My copy is virtual: a *.pdf I filed under ‘devotionals.’ That lets me get at it easily, without expending paper and ink.

I could waste time and effort, agonizing over my ‘keep it simple’ decision. But I won’t. This reading-and-prayer routine is something I can do. I figure doing what I can is more productive than fretting about what I can’t.

It seems I’m not the only one who thinks being reasonable makes sense. “Don’t do too much” is the sixth of ten points on a ‘what to remember’ list:

I’ll probably look at how ‘dying to myself’ doesn’t mean indulging in self-inflicted pain and suffering. Eventually.

What with flagellants and ‘more ascetic than thou’ enthusiasts, it’s a wonder more folks don’t assume “Christian” and “crazy” are synonyms. And that’s another topic.

Then there’s observing Lent’s ‘meatless Fridays’ by going to a swanky restaurant and ordering Lobster Thermidor. That’s not how it works.

Or why. The goal is taking my cues from our Lord:

About Brian H. Gill

I'm a sixty-something married guy with six kids, four surviving, in a small central Minnesota town. I mostly write and make digital art. I'm only interested in three things: that which exists within the universe; that which exists beyond; and that which might exist.
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