List #235: Lenten Promises

In 2014 I'm only Catholic by tradition. Meaning I spent eight years attending Catholic grade school, countless Sunday mornings in church, and was Confirmed. But now I have faith in some general god, believe that special people do walk this earth and do good things to be saints, and really only go to church for weddings and funerals. Is this all a little simplistic? Sure. But trying to narrow one's faith into a few sentences for a blog post is actually pretty hard.

Because I am a Catholic by tradition, Lent has always played a part in my life. And yes, I will try to give up something this season. Or at least try to a little more good.

But before I decide, and in between all of the promises I saw people post to Facebook and Twitter swearing off of social media, or promising not to yell at their children for the next 40 days, I couldn't help but remember some of the promises I had made in the past.

  • Every year at my parochial school, the teachers would make us write down our lenten promises on some themed paper. Secrets that no one else would read. And into a big brown basket they would go; to be burned into the ashes that would be placed upon our foreheads.
  • When one teacher finally told us that we could opt to do an extra good thing every day during Lent, instead of giving something up, I very often wrote down doing extra chores for my mother. Or being nicer to my brothers. I honestly have no recollection of doing extra chores. And I was always reasonably nice to my brothers any time of the year.
  • In college, one Ash Wednesday, I attended a nondenominational mass with some of my roommates at the college chapel. During that same time, the local bowling alley was burning down and was the talk of the mass. Years later, this chapel would become famous for a little while after they held a seminar on sex and masturbation inside of it. 
  • On the Good Friday's of my youth, my mom would not let us watch television during the hours that Jesus was dying on the cross. And all of us had to fast. She's gotten a lot lighter on these rules and I really don't know why.
  • Probably the thing I gave up most during Lent's of my childhood were chips and sweets. It was probably a whole lot easier back then considering my mom packed my lunch.
  • In fourth grade, it was (and still is) a tradition for the class to perform the living stations. Everyone in the class had a part and we'd very silently act out the scenes from the stations of the cross. I was one of the women who met Jesus in the eighth station. It was a coveted role because you had to dance too. Thank goodness, I had all of that ballet experience. 
  • As a creature of habit, I still don't really eat meat on Fridays during Lent. My dad was already asked when we're coming over for a Friday fish fry.
  • In graduate school my Young Adult Resources professor dressed monochromatically and brought us in treats every week. For Fat Tuesday she brought in King Cake because she couldn't find enough paczki. Or perhaps it was the other way around.  
  • Now this year, I plan to give up Coca-cola. It will be hard, but no ordering cola in restaurants, none for lunch at work. Though if I get hit with a tension headache or migraine, my favorite soda will have to make an appearance. But I'm hoping for 40 days without a pounding head incident.
So dear readers, do you still give up something for Lent? Even if you aren't Catholic? Share your stories in the comments. 

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