Remarkably, Lent Has Ended Again

I did a bit more for Lent this year than I usually do--not a great deal by any means, but a bit more. And I found it almost too easy, and over more quickly than I expected. I do not love Lent, and agree with the priest I heard on Ash Wednesday, that it really ought to last twenty days instead of forty. It's along about the fourth week that in years past I've felt that it really ought to be about over, and that I didn't think I'd be able to maintain for another three weeks what meager discipline I had so far managed.

This year it just didn't seem to last that long. And that's in keeping with my general experience these days, which also seems to be the common experience of people getting well up in years. The past ten years, which have seen my transition from late middle to early old age, went swiftly. It's hard to believe that I've been doing this blog for ten years, and that it's been eight since my youngest child left home. From ten years old to twenty was an epoch, and from twenty to thirty an age, but from fifty-five to sixty-five an afternoon.

Also related to the relatively easy time I had with Lent is an apparent paradox of aging: although time seems to pass more quickly, I'm more patient. It's only apparent, though, and only at first glance: though it might make sense that the consciousness of how little time remains would make one less tolerant of delay, one also sees time spent waiting for something as much shorter and more bearable. At five a child in January feels a deep grief that Christmas is past and hardly understands that it will ever come again; at sixty-five one knows that it's just around the corner.

But the sixty-five-year-old doesn't feel the same intense joy as the child, either; repetition and apparent frequency dull the experience. Suppose one were immortal, and could have the old person's sense of time passing ever more swiftly, without losing the child's thrill at the approach and arrival of some longed-for event: the times between would shrink toward zero, and one might arrive eventually at a single point of ecstacy.

Could we endure it? Not as we are, no. Christ is risen: alleluia.


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A Lent question - my stepson was told in CCD that Lent ended and the Triduum began on Holy Thursday. I told him this was incorrect, that Lent ended on Easter. The Triduum is sort of "Lent on steroids". But he could find sites on the internet to support his (his teacher's) position. Not that I am in any way trying to win an argument with an 11 year old; I won't mention it again. But what do you think, Mac, or other gentle followers of this blog?

That is correct, Lent ends after None (Midafternoon prayer) on Thursday. The Triduum is its own season. It made more sense when Lent ended on the afternoon of the Saturday before Passion Sunday and thus began Passiontide, which ended on Holy Thursday, but now that we have aboloished Passiontide in the OF, so thats' were we stand. The Triuduum is so penentential, that unlike Lent, it doesn't even have Marian antiphons at the end of Compline (Night prayer). The practical application of this is simply that Lenten devotions continue until afte the Easter Vigil.

Thanks for clearing that up, Father, and thanks for asking the question, Stu! One of our kids asked about it too so now I can give them an answer. :)

Very interesting post, Maclin.

I must say that age 30 - 40 went frighteningly quickly and I'll be 45 this year and keep thinking I'm only just 40!

"From ten years old to twenty was an epoch, and from twenty to thirty an age, but from fifty-five to sixty-five an afternoon."

Well said. What is strange is that I can tell you the exact year of any music I heard from the age of 14 until 19 or so: "that was summer of 69", say. Then it becomes "oh, that was in the 90s" or whatever. In the midst of the 'epoch' every moment seemed crucial (and memorable). Then it gradually becomes a blur.

In the Eastern churches Great Lent ends with Holy Week beginning, though the fast intensifies, at least in theory.

More response later, but I imagine the double posting of comments above is part of the trouble TypePad is still experiencing, and I can't log in to fix them. Here's something about what's going on:

I suspect that the actual question being pursued by the 11-year-old in Stu's question is "Can I start eating Easter candy [or otherwise end a Lenten practice] on Holy Thursday?" :-)

Indeed, Maclin! We set our own kids straight on that score, but it was an interesting question all the same.

Our kids eat Easter candy any time during Lent if they didn't give up candy for Lent. :)

Its called strategic penance.

Is there an echo in here?

TypePad's still having problems. But I may be able to get in and clean up these duplicated comments.

All my students last Thursday were insistent that the USCCB website (no less) says that Lent ends on Thursday. There was no bones about it, they wanted to drop their penance. I simply told them, you keep fasting until after the Vigil.

Ha. As I figured: it is not an abstract question of liturgical correctness. You told them right. If anything, on Good Friday at least they should not only continue their fasting but flog themselves.

I admit I tend to get a bit slack on Holy Saturday. Not really a conscious decision, just...slack.

Tell them that from the beginning of the Mass of the Lord's Supper to the end of the Easter Vigil is one liturgy. You don't feast during a liturgical celebration-only after. The Church, in her leniency, allows us to eat a small amount to keep our energy up for three days.

Holy Saturday for us is a quiet day of preparation while our Lord is off freeing the captives and gathering the victory procession (agmen).

In principle it is for me, too. In practice it tends to become an ordinary Saturday. "one liturgy" is a good way of looking at it.

I had a mixed Lent. I followed what Janet said was on the USCCB website about not taking Sundays off for booze. That one went well. I took Sundays off for meat for the first couple of weeks and then thought what the heck and went meatless for the last five or so weeks of Lent. So I did fairly well there. Where I did badly was on not using the internet. I bought a DVD of a recent TV series, The Americans. Having finished it I succumbed to temptation and watched the second series on the amazon site - an absolute no no. So I had this every Wednesday crash and burn. As to Holy Saturday I have never before crashed and burned on Holy Saturday. I blame absolutely the fact of having told the students that they could not give up their Lenten penance until after the Vigil. So on Saturday around 5 pm I went straight ahead and started reading the Daily Telegraph online. I'm sure it was all because of getting on my high horse about the vigil!

The question is, when can you stop fasting if you didn't go to the vigil? When can you say the "A" word?

That's all too plausible.

I was not at all pleased to hear that from the USCCB, because that Sunday break really means a lot to me, even though I don't really take that much advantage of it. Maybe it's just knowing that I can slack up for that day if I want to that helps keep my resolution strong for the rest of the week. I went meatless this year, too, for the first time, and really didn't have any problem with it. In fact I think my wife and I have permanently altered our eating habits now, to include a lot less meat. But I still regard the stricter fast--no milk products, no fish, etc--with horror. I'd have a real hard time maintaining that for six weeks.

And I haven't even seriously considered going offline for Lent. I justify it by saying that people stop reading blogs if there are no new posts for weeks on end.

No, I only go offline for non-business things. I use the internet, for example, for searching for images for powerpoints for my lectures (probably my main professional usage of the net, in terms of time spent on it). I couldn't go off line if I had a blog.
I do actually have a site, now, where the books for a series I'm editing are all described. And I had to look at it several times a week, to check on the work our web master was doing.

I was annoyed with the Bps for saying that. I really like my Sundays off. But I thought I would give it a shot. And in some ways, particularly after the first few weeks, I think it's easier just to give something up completely that to have to keep doing it every Monday.

I couldn't give up Milk in my tea. And I don't really see the point. I have some dear friends who were doing a quasi Orthodox thing and giving up more and more throughout Lent until they got to Holy Week and had no milk products. But they planned to drink Rice milk or coconut milk one of those
'funny milks' you see in the cabinets of better supermarkets, near the milk but not milk. I admire these people, but I can't see the point of that. It just seems to make milk a 'taboo', if one can substitute something else. I mean a taboo rather than a penance.

I don't eat fish. I never have. So it's cheese toasties day after day. I was talking to a young Chinese Catholic who had gone meatless, but her real sacrifice had been to go fish-less :)!

I go offline for enjoyment items - chatting with you lot and reading Maclin's blog, and Janet's, and Craigs, and gazing haplessly at expensive clothes on Net-a-porter, and watching Youtube clips, and reading the Daily Telegraph, and all online shopping including amazon, including buying Amazon Instant Videos of The Americans Series 2. Most of my friends cannot get the idea that I don't do any recreational surfing during Lent, so I keep a special 'Lent' folder in my email box, where I keep all the clippings people send me. One friend of mine sends out at least two internet clips a day, usually about 33% about University life, 33% kittens and puppies and 33% anti-Semitic outrages.

I mean he expresses outrage about anti-Semitism, not he expresses anti-Semitic outrage per se! I wouldn't be friends with someone who did that! He wrote to the University Union Secretary about their boycott of Israel so many times in the past six months that the secretary resigned.

"anti-Semitic outrages" did take me aback for a second, but I figured you meant outrage at anti-Semitism.

That matter of friends not getting that you aren't doing recreational surfing is another reason I haven't tried to give it up. I'd have to keep doing email, at least.

I'm almost in the same position as your Chinese friend. If I had to give up either red meat or seafood permanently, I might choose to keep seafood. I really love seafood of most kinds (don't care much for oysters), and so the fish-only Friday is a bit of a joke for me. Probably the single most indulgent and un-penintential meal I had during this Lent was technically within the rules: fried fish on a Friday night.

With all due to respect to the USCCB, giving up something for Lent is voluntary and does not bind under pain of sin, so if you want to take Sundays off, so be it. I do.

It is interesting to see what Lenten devotions become permanent. I gave up dairy one year. I because Lactose intolerant afterwards. Go figure.

The people not getting it was really trying until I thought of the idea of the Lent folder. Even people who have known me forever, and even Catholics just don't get it. I do find that saying, 'well that went straight into the Lent folder' pulls them up at least temporarily.

I have never given up email. I ought to try to cut back on how often I check it next year.

Father I gave up the radio in the car this year (just Monday to Friday, I'm not missing 'The Beatles and Beyond'), and it was a real sacrifice on at least one occasion when I had to drive back from Chicago airport at night. But now I'm finding I'd like a bit of peace and quiet in the car (except on Saturday morning :) ). After I came back from my last camino in Spain I found American coffee had become too strong for me. But I managed slowly to work myself back into drinking it a little. I thought I was going to have to give it up altogether and become a decaff drinker, but I found with a bit of patience one could overcome the initial intolerance ...

I did you one better. I gave up the Beatles for Lent. Now that's a sacrifice.

Gosh, you really are a Beatles fanatic. I appreciate the effort it must cost you to restrain your temper when people like me fail to give them due respect.

I generally give up music in the car, which is possibly the most burdensome thing I do, because I'm in the car for an hour and a half every day. I allow myself a bit of non-music radio, though.

What is "Beatles and Beyond"?

Decaff is just not coffee to me. If it really tasted like coffee I would love it, because I could drink all the coffee I wanted without wrecking my nerves. But I'd rather just skip the whole thing. It's like a veggie burger compared to a hamburger--just no comparison. But veggie burgers are not so bad if you aren't trying to pretend they're real burgers, whereas decaff coffee isn't different enough to stand on its own, it just tastes like fake coffee.

I gave up soda for Lent and have no intention of drinking it regularly again. And I'm generally trying to cut down on sugar. So far, so good.

We eat Atlantic Salmon most Fridays and that IS a luxury b/c it's so much cheaper here than in Australia, so we would rarely eat it at home. We have it with mashed potato and steamed vegetables and it's such a good but simple meal, I think we should eat it very regularly! But you know, I just feel all WRONG if I eat red meat on Fridays.

I think I would have died of homesickness if I had given up FB for Lent.

And I should point out that not only did I not lose any weight over Lent (not that I was aiming to) but in fact I gained a couple of pounds. What the ???

I mean, that's just really irritating

Indeed. I think I did, too.

It's really interesting to hear how people's Lents went this year. I lost a few pounds, but I can't take any credit; I was just so sick through most of March. I had given up salty snack foods as a penance, but after the Vigil I ate almost an entire bag of nachos. No permanent penance for me.

I finished up with a penitential bang this year: I took both kids to the Good Friday liturgy and the Vigil by myself. And I survived!

Wow! That's hard core, Craig! How old are the children?

So, having given up the Beatles (and all pop music) for Lent, I listened only to classical, John Michael Talbot, John Foley, chant and polyphony, Godspell.

Lent's over, so I listen to some Beatles. I find that a lot of it is unpleasant to me, both musically and lyrically. I don't think I'll go back to listening to whole albums by the Beatles or any pop musicians. I'll just listen to whatever is good. And my definition of good is pretty narrow.

I also gave up caffeine and intend not to go back to it.

I'm actually in two minds as to whether I should buy a new and tighter belt, or just wait to fill out again.

Louise, they are are 2 and (just barely) 5. The 5 year old fell asleep 1/2 hour into the Vigil, but the 2 year old was awake nearly to the end!

Craig - that really is hard core! You all survived? Amazing!

Paul, I think I would go for the new belt - even if the need is short lived!

Maclin, when I came back from the 'long camino' I had been drinking I guess a few cups of Spanish coffee a day. So when I returned to drinking tankards of Starbucks inspired coffee my heart began working overtime. I had 'the poundies' after my normal morning coffee. I went to decaff. I was compliant but in despair at the thought of a lifetime of decaff. So I gradually started cutting the decaff with a little real coffee, until today, when I usually have 'half and half with half and half'. I sometimes have a whole real coffee, but not as often as before my long camino trip.

Yeah, I vote for the new belt, Paul. Maybe it will inspire you to persevere. What did you do during Lent that allowed you to lose that much weight?

Robert, that's kind of a dramatic switch for you with regard to the Beatles, isn't it?

The Beatles and Beyond is from the Goshen College Radio station. It fades out if one gets any large distance from there. But I notice driving into Chicago that they have a Saturday morning Beatles program too, on one of their local radio stations, which likewise goes fuzzy fifty miles out of Chicago. The Chicago one features Professor Moptop. But I prefer the Goshen one. It's a good station too, for pop music.

Paul - my warning is that 3 weeks into the camino I had to buy a belt because all my clothes were falling off. My trousers would not stay up. But now, just under two years later, I've put it all back and have to wear what remnants I have left of my clothes from those days. I thought I'd never put it all back on again, because it stayed off for nearly a year after my return to the USA. But then this year it suddenly crept back. I hope to lose some of that again this year, but I cannot walk for nearly so long this time - just about three weeks - I have not made up my mind what town to set out from yet.

"tankards of Starbucks inspired coffee" would completely wreck me. It's not so much the poundies with me as the shakies, and the eyes-wide-open-at-3am-ies. I have a similar compromise, but rather than cut the real stuff with decaff, I just don't drink very much. This is the regimen I'm on now: weekends, Tuesdays, and Thursdays I get one cup, and I skip Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Which is really hard. But I've discovered over the years that the caffeine sort of builds up in my system if I have even a small amount every day. When I say "a cup" I don't mean a mug that holds most of a pint, I mean an old-time coffee/tea cup. It's very sad. When I do drink my one cup on the good days, I want no distractions or interruptions. I drink mine black, so I'm very sensitive to the taste, and I savor every sip.

Every once in a while I allow myself a second cup. Very sad.

it's grim

I never even drank coffee until I was in my Ph.D. program. Then I became a slave. I've been off for almost 50 days and I still feel like my body is trying to shake it off. Maybe I'll never get back to normal.

I grew up on iced tea as my caffeinated beverage of choice. And Dr. Pepper. I can't drink tea at all these days because it makes my kidneys go into high gear. i won't drink caffeine free Dr. Pepper. That's just stupid.

I've always been somewhat particular about what Beatles I like to listen to. Now I just can't tolerate the less genius stuff and the overly rocky stuff.

It's funny, I can't remember when I began to drink coffee. I didn't drink it in college, and I remember being pretty habituated to it seven or eight years later, but I don't have any idea exactly when or how I got started.

I usually feel like I've got it completely out of my system if I drink NO caffeine at all for a week or so. I can feel it right now but it's not enough to bother me.

I was thinking about the Beatles just this morning, that they really were pretty much finished after Magical Mystery Tour. Not that there isn't some brilliance in the music that came after, but it's mixed with a lot of mediocre stuff, and they don't really sound like a band anymore.

I don't like Magical Mystery Tour. There's a few of the late songs that I like ("your mother would know" has great nostalgic resonance for me), but overall, I'm not a fan. I particularly dislike 'I am the Walrus'.

I certainly wouldn't defend "I Am the Walrus," though I do like parts of it, especially that collage fade-out at the end. But overall to my taste it's an album of mostly good-to-great songs with a couple of clinkers. It's really not an "album" in the sense of a planned-out program, because the whole 2nd side (in LP terms) is uncollected singles thrown in by the record company to fill it out to album length, but to me those are some of the best work they ever did. Whereas it's almost the other way around with the three albums that followed--lots of mediocre stuff, occasional brilliance.

I'm in the middle of a Beatles-a-thon right now, listening to all their records chronologically (along with a bunch of other stuff). Magical Mystery Tour is next on my list; I don't know if I've ever heard it before. So far my favourite record has been, I think, Help!. It's a nice combination of the early, likeable, tuneful stuff with a modest admixture of ambition. Revolver and Rubber Soul really didn't do much for me.

I am one of the few who do not drink coffee at all, and never have. I can't stand the odour. I drink sodas instead, which I know is really not classy. But I'm convinced they are good for me: if I don't get them, I start shaking.

The coffee situation is very grim. If I drink coffee at all - now I mostly just drink tea - it must be before noon. :(

Bummer. I take it you have an advancing sensitivity as well? I don't think it started affecting me so strongly till I was in my 40s.

Interesting, Craig. That puts you in the minority of Beatles fans, I'm pretty sure. I might pick Rubber Soul and Revolver as my favorites. I didn't even remember what's on Help! till I looked just now, and it is a good one. I like Yesterday and Today, too, and was surprised to see, in the same discography, that it was released between the two Rs. I thought it preceded them.

I'm going to try to make time this weekend to listen to Magical Mystery Tour for the first time in many years. We can compare notes.

Revolver and Rubber soul were my favourites. My brother his Rubber Soul because I used to play it all the time. Unfortunately he hid it behind a radiator and it melted. I dont know if he ever got to where he cld lsugh about that, beyond grim black laughter

Just as well not to tell him that this made me laugh, even though I sympathize. I recall being outraged when my much younger brother broke my model airplanes, which he was too young to play with.

Bummer. I take it you have an advancing sensitivity as well?

Yes, I think this started in my late thirties. But I must say, if I do have a coffee now I *really* enjoy it.


I think the main causes of weight loss were giving up anything sugary or alcoholic.

I'm the same with coffee, Louise. Drink it after midday and I find it impossible to sleep at night.

That wouldn't do it for me, as most of the time I don't eat that many sweets and only have two or three drinks on Saturday. I find that I don't lose weight without exercising, which I haven't been doing for months. I'm sure I could do it on a strict diet regimen, but I've never done that seriously.

I'd defend I Am a Walrus on musical grounds, although not on lyrical grounds (which, to me, is typical of Beatles' music: music, great; lyrics, most often banal).

I don't appreciate Lennon's scornful disdain for his audience or his "I'm different because I see things differently" lyrical cleverness.

On the other hand, the music of IATW is probably one of the most sophisticated things that Lennon ever did. It is a very well-crafted piece, even if it is overly "druggie." I'd say it is beautiful, but not in a McCartney sort of way. I think it would make a great instrumental piece, or vocal piece with different, more genuinely meaningful lyrics.

Lennon's voice, as usual, is great.

I hadn't distinguished music and lyrics, but now that you point it out, it is mostly the lyrics that are off-putting to me. There's a rather unpleasant mode--sort of small and spiteful and attempting-to-shock--that Lennon tends to veer off into and as I recall there's a good bit of that in "Walrus." I'm really looking forward to listening attentively to the album this weekend.

Im going to listen to my blind w johnson CD when i get back to SB!

I hope you didn't buy it on the strength of "Dark Was the Night". Which one do you have? I have Praise God I'm Satisfied, but there's another more complete collection.

No I got it years ago, I cannot remember why or when.

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