Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What Shall I "Sacrifice"?

It's that time of year again, when I must decide what "sacrifice" (or "sacrifices") I intend to make during the Lenten Season.

I put quotes around the word sacrifice--because in light of what Our Lord sacrificed for love of us, nothing I have ever done for Lent, in my weak human attempts to walk with Him in the days leading up to His Passion, can really be called that.  Not even close.
A 16th-century painting by El Greco.
I often give up Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke for Lent, because there are days when I crave that ice cold, fizzy, zero calorie deliciousness so much that it is absolutely painful for me not to be able to taste it.  Yes, I used the word "painful" there.  God have mercy on me, please. 

Another thing I have routinely given up for Lent is chocolate, and sometimes not only chocolate but all sweets and desserts, chocolate and otherwise--for a whole 40 days, mind you--which is nothing less than a first step in the canonization process, right?  God have mercy on me, please.

Sometimes I think giving up diet soda is a better form of self-denial for me than giving up desserts, because then I know for sure that my motives are pure and I'm not "sacrificing" sweets with the underlying hope that at the end of Lent, I might be a couple of pounds lighter.  Without my fizzy and delightful zero calorie oral fix, I might in fact be a couple of pounds heavier.  So there's some food (and drink) for thought, as I try to decide by tomorrow morning what it's going to be.

One Lent many years ago, when my boys were much younger, I gave up Dunkin' Donuts coffee (but not all coffee, because yikes!  How would I survive 40 days of THAT?) and the TV show "Everybody Loves Raymond" (but not all TV shows, just that one because it was my very favorite).  One of my sons, who was in junior high or high school at the time, called me on it.  He joked, "Really, Mom?  You're just giving up one kind of coffee, but not all coffee; and one TV show, but not all TV?"  He said it teasingly, but I did feel a bit chastened.  After all, there had been Lenten Seasons where a couple of my sons, just grade-schoolers at the time, had gone without any TV whatsoever--which for them really was a heroic sacrifice.

I may use this Lenten Season to make more time for prayer--to actually kneel at my bedside both morning and night, with the kind of fervent dedication I witness daily in my husband.  Perhaps I should say a second daily Rosary--a devotion that would take a mere 20 extra minutes out of my day, 20 minutes that I normally have no trouble wasting on all manner of trivial pursuits.

For today ("Fat Tuesday"), though, there are about four bottles of Diet Coke in the fridge with my name on them.  There will be fudgy homemade brownies with chocolate chips in them for dessert, after tonight's fattening dinner with my husband.  And hopefully before I turn in for the night, I will have figured out how I can make room inside, by giving up some material comfort that I'll miss in the weeks to come, in order to fill myself up with love for Christ.  As weak as I am, I know I will struggle with whatever small "sacrifice" I choose.  So God have mercy on me, please.

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