The Resignation
A Young Priest on the Resignation

Resenting Lent

(I have an uneasy feeling that I may have written more or less this post before, but a quick look around hasn't found it. )

Some years Lent gets off to a better start than others for me. This year I was going to make a real effort to start thinking about it well before Ash Wednesday, and have some kind of plan in mind, and, more important, be mentally prepared. Naturally, I'm even less prepared than usual. The last two weeks have been one thing after another after another--not necessarily bad things, though some are (like the nasty cold that makes me feel like I drank a couple of beers just before carrying a fifty-pound weight on a long hike). It's now the night before Ash Wednesday and I can only think about how I'll get to Mass tomorrow, because my car is in the shop. 

From this point of view, Ash Wednesday and all of Lent just look like more items in the list of things I have to do--with the added pall that they involve changing my circumstances in some slight bit for the worse: not listening to music on that 45-minute ride to and from work, for instance, which is one of my usual Lenten things. Frankly, it's even crossed my mind to chuck all but some barest minimum of observance. I could almost even rationalize doing that, on the grounds that penance is no use if I just feel resentful of it. That I recognize as plain old temptation, but it has a certain plausibility.

Maybe I'll reverse my usual pattern: maybe instead of starting out strong and declining through the forty days to the point where my only thought of Lent is Isn't the blasted thing over yet?, I'll start out weak and get stronger. That has a certain implausibility, but maybe God will surprise me. I don't think I'm going to surprise myself.

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Well, the miracle has, perhaps, already begun. I almost forgot to go to Mass, and was a few minutes late, enough to miss the opening music. Either they played "Ashes" then, or they decided not to use it this year, which seems unlikely. Anyway, I did not have to hear "Ashes." So Lent is starting well after all.

And no, hearing it is not penitential for me, but rather an occasion of sin. A pretty sure one, actually.

Whatever you do Mac, remember to take Sundays off!

heh. Don't worry, no chance of my forgetting to do that.

You're over 60. You are dispensed from fasting.

A Byzantine-rite priest of my acquaintance offers the list of abstentions:

1. Meat
2. Dairy
3. Olive oil
4. Liquor

Withdrawal from dairy does cause a certain amount of havoc with your digestion. One meal a day is the limit throughout much of the time. The Melkite Eparchy publishes a handy wall calendar which helps.

Get thee behind me.... Right, I know I'm officially exempt, but there's really no good reason why I shouldn't "fast", in the very loose sense that the Ash Wednesday and Good Friday fasts are now minimally defined.

I've known for a long time that I would have serious difficulty with the Eastern rules. Aren't most Orthodox practices even stricter than this? I could manage three of the four abstentions without too much trouble. 1,3, and 4, or 2, 3, and 4. But giving up both meat and cheese would be very difficult for me.

Probably you've thought it every year of your life, and therefore you feel like you must have written it down at some point.

Heh. Quite possibly (with the slight qualification that Lent wasn't part of my life till I was in my early 30s).

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