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Lent really snuck up on me this year, the way Christmas never does. Of course there’s no real reason for the culture at large to get all geared up for Lent, since Lent usually means people buying less, not more. I doubt most people notice Lent at all, except for wondering about the black smudges.

Still, that’s not a very good excuse for (1) eating a triple-size meal for Ash Wednesday dinner even if I technically sort of fasted the rest of the day — American Catholics (I mean me) are such wimps, srsly — (2) commemorating the first Friday of the season with significant quantities of beer, and (3) ignoring the blog for a full week. Oops, oops, oops. Feeling like Jill and Eustace in The Silver Chair: it hasn’t been Lent very long, but I already seem to be doing rather badly.

No, I’m not wallowing in the famous Catholic Guilt, but it’s clear that I need some balance, especially socially. My lack of blogging is mainly due to me being very social lately, and that part is good; but my social life tends to be either feast or fast, either spending the whole weekend alone or running myself ragged seeing everybody.

Or maybe that’s normal. If that word means anything. Makes me think of that bit in Punch-Drunk Love: “I don’t know if there is anything wrong, because I don’t know how other people are.”

Father T. had some good words on the subject in our conversation last week, but I’ve got to let them percolate a little more before I start talking about it. I know I’ve got to pray more, or pray better, or pray differently: to stop treating prayer as one more task to check off the to-do list, and start treating it like a conversation.

Anyway. Plenty to think and pray about. How’s your Lent going?

10 thoughts on “Balance

  1. Joemy

    Haha, I think the triple sized meal for the one full meal is a widespread phenomenon…
    It also goes along with the theme of your post, in some ways it is easier to eat the two small meals than to eat reasonable amount for the third one. It is easier to be either completely absorbed in social life or totally devoid of it.
    Someone told me that all of the virtues are a balance between extremes, except for faith, hope, and love. Apparently the only things we can’t overdo are being too faithful, too hopeful, or too loving.

    I’ve been reading the blog for awhile and I love it. You have a very honest voice in your writing and it is truly refreshing.

    Reply
  2. Theresa Zoe

    Awesome topic for this time of year. Totally identify. Joemy makes an awesome point by saying it’s easier to be completely absorbed or totally devoid and I think that goes for all things, which is why balance seems difficult to attain.
    The other part of your post that struck me was about prayer. My Lent has started off so-so. I made a sacrifice to up my spiritual ante but have been doing miserably at it thus far. And then you said it: prayer can’t just be another task to check off. Bingo. I had already changed my sacrifice before I read this post to something more attainable and practical and balanced but this really drove it home for me. I don’t need to up my spiritual ante by doing more, so to speak, but by doing prayer differently and thus better. Boom. I think my Lent just took a turn for the better already :)

    Reply
  3. Charity M.

    My Lent’s been going pretty much the same as yours, actually! And I’ve been neglecting my blog, too. Need to take care of the prayer first, and then I may have something worthwhile to blog about!

    Reply
  4. Gabriel

    Lent has been stressful this year, tho’ only because life is stressful. Being a gay Catholic (a Gaytholic?) is the short end of an awful lot of sticks, it seems. And dysthymic depression doesn’t help, oddly enough.

    Did manage an American fast on Ash Wednesday and a whining and/or counseling session with my director on Thursday, which already feels like a hundred years ago. Other than that, a little extra prayer and Adoration are go thus far, and some use of the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows, a Marian devotion I’m quite fond of and recommend to anyone who finds Our Lady of Sorrows a sympathetic aspect of St. Mary.

    Fun tho’ unrelated fact: got a Calvinist friend of mine to attend, of all things, a traditional Latin Mass with me on Saturday. He was not freaked out. Praying for another trans-Tiber convert. :D

    Reply
  5. Perpetua

    Ha! Steve, I had a similar experience at the start of Lent. Found myself doing things that I did not even expect…for example…I gave up wheat awhile back for health reasons and as sort of a Lenten discipline was going to eliminate all grains for the next 40 days. On Ash Wednesday I ordered pizza for my Science Olympiad team’s practice and even though I haven’t even been tempted by pizza in quite some time…all of the sudden there was nothing I could do to stop myself from eating 3 pieces…and I wasn’t even hungry!!! This is just one small example…but your bit about prayer…so true! I’ll pray for you…if you will pray for me!!

    Reply
  6. Dan F.

    Hi Steve,

    My Lent was going fabulously until about 90 minutes ago when I had a horrible fight with my (pregnant) wife in front of our (very) young children. :(

    At this point all it seems I can pray is “Please, dear God, help!”; beyond that I can’t seem to think or pray about anything at the moment.

    I hear what you’re saying about praying differently as a conversation instead of a checklist item. My recent blog posts are actually related to that topic if you wanted to check them out.

    Reply
  7. Christine

    My Lent has actually been surprisingly good so far. I chose a sacrifice that will be difficult but not overly burdensome, and should help me focus more on God and on being rooted in reality. This was the first Ash Wednesday in years that I wasn’t unusually hungry (I usually have a higher than normal appetite on fasting days, even more than would be explained by eating less). That made Ash Wednesday easy; I almost didn’t even eat my third meal, and all of my meals were small. Of course, I don’t know that “Lent has been easy so far” translates into “Lent has been good.” Being easy isn’t really what the season’s meant to be about. Also, the last time I had a surprisingly easy start to Lent my whole life fell apart by the end of Lent, so an easy start to Lent might actually be a bad sign. I hope not.

    But in general, I am pleased with the sacrifice I chose this Lent and think if all goes well I should end the season closer to God.

    Reply
  8. Rose

    It’s going decently. Last year for the first time I tried adding instead of subtracting, and it was possibly the best Lent in the history of my young life, so I’m on a similar track this year. My Lenten sacrifice is less of a “sacrifice” and more of a supplemental prayer plus faith-action spiritual workout. In a way I am sacrificing time, which I find most beneficial as it is a very concrete way of simultaneously taking out the world and filling it in with God.

    Reply

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