Friday, February 15, 2008

Penance for Your Thoughts

Okay, so Lent has gotten off to a bumpy start this year, and I'm resolved to stop making resolutions, as if this is really some kind of liturgical New Year's and I'm going to finally shed those 5 nagging pounds of sin...

So far I've granted myself a dispensation from the annual ban on alcoholic beverages twice; once because it was Sunday and, as my buddy Chris helpfully pointed out, I am not, in fact, holier than the Church; and once to facilitate the illuminating conversation that inspired yesterday's post... but aside from that, I've been a model of virtue.

Ha. What I mean is, I've been modeling virtue, making sure that all my friends, coworkers and that lady who runs the self checkout cashier help station at Kroger know just how difficult it is for me to forgo those small luxuries I've chosen to deny myself this season, and are dually impressed. Wow Jenny, no happy hour for a whole month? And you're not eating out at all? And no (gulp) facebook, even? You're a living saint.

At least that's what I think they're thinking. But why am I thinking about what they're thinking about at all? Why should it even cross my mind to complain about penances which I have taken on of my own free will out of love for my Savior, and in preparation for His Passion? I should be facedown before the altar kissing the ground in supplication and gratitude for this season of spiritual "boot camp" designed to break me of my worldly ways... designed with nothing other than my eventual eternal salvation in mind!

Why am I anxiously flipping through the calendar in my office, gritting my teeth and trying to surreptitiously note any and all feast days that fall during the next five weeks...

It's because I'm selfish. I'm selfish and I'm just a teensy bit resentful over this whole "lent" business, it would seem. I mean, fasting and prayer and almsgiving is all good, but 40 days Lord? It seems that He and I have differing ideas of exactly how much "work" I need done, and I'm none too pleased with the disruption this whole season causes to my important and busy life.

Which is the point, of course. Lent is designed to bring us into right relationship with God, with the Church, and with each other, but also within ourselves. I have a sneaking suspicion that what would be more pleasing to my God would be a Jenny who didn't think quite so highly of herself, some one who was more available to do His will and less aggravated by changes in her plans. In short, I think He desires not burnt offerings of tortuous hours spent in facebookless sobriety, cut off from online social networking and good beer, but rather a heart, contrite and humble.


  1. loose 5 pounds of sin....what a brilliant idea!! ;-)

  2. that sounds like our buddy Chris. : )

    move to Rome. I heard we're dispensed from sacrifice over here...

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  4. Touche anonymous, it does indeed, thanks for underscoring my point!


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