I think this sums up a lot of what I feel about the terrible events in Pennsylvania. I have been sitting here for about an hour trying to summarize my feelings, to add to this but it is so difficult. The evil has damaged so many lives, directly and indirectly. It has affected me in ways I am just beginning to realize as I sit here typing. However, it has not affected my belief in God and His church.

It is Lent, No Meat, So What

Two slices of rump steak (sirloin) with a forbidden sign and the text “Just say NO!”

Whether we like it or not, we have entered into the season of Lent. Let’s be honest, there is a lot of us who hate the season of Lent. The church wants us to give up things we might not want to give up. What for example?

The most obvious is we are told not to eat meat on Fridays! So for carnivores like me, this is a challenge. I like to eat meat. Giving up eating meat is a sacrifice. Sure you fish lovers can run out and have your Red Lobster favorite. If you are roughing it, you eat that tater sauce drenched McFish. Or at home, you have that coconut shrimp, baked walleye, fried perch… But I hate fish. Especially sea food.

A friend of mine hates fish as much as I do and has gone so far as creating a new food he calls chicken fish, which is really chicken. But I digress, this is about me and my sacrifice.

My vegetarian daughter just laughs, because she doesn’t eat meat, so giving up meat on Friday isn’t a sacrifice for her. While she might be fine with it, I can eat only so many grilled cheese sandwiches and boxes of Kraft Marconi and Cheese.

But isn’t that the point of the church is making to me? That it is a sacrifice for me not to eat meat on Friday; that it can be truly painful to watch someone eat a juicy burger while I try to swallow a fish sandwich. (Plus they look and see there is another one of those Catholics stuck eating fish.)

It was apparent that Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane didn’t want the bear the pain of dying on the Cross, especially when he knew some would not recognize his what his meant. Yet, he told his the Father that, “Your will be done.”

Granted, my sacrifice of not eating a cheese burger on Friday does not even begin to compare the sacrifice Christ made for me, for us; nor does choking down a fish sandwich. But, perhaps, it helps me remember how much Christ was willing to do for me.  And, perhaps, I take the time to think about the sacrifices I can make for Christ.



Ashes and Lent Again

Ash Wednesday word written in ash, sand or dust.

Today, we begin the season of Lent. Many will run to churches to get their heads marked with ashes, but for what reason? For many, the devotion is something deeply personal. They realize that they live less than perfect and they need forgiveness. The ashes on their head is a public statement acknowledging this fact. Over the next forty days, they will make a special effort to change their lives and become better people.

For others, the mark is something to show they have participated in a tradition. This might be a positive or a negative; traditions are simply that way. If we take part in a tradition to recall who we are, to reconnect to others and the past, it is a positive. If we enter a tradition and we don’t know why, but take the effort to unpack what the tradition is about, it is also a positive. It is only when we don’t try to learn the meaning of the ritual it becomes a negative.

My personal challenge, and, perhaps yours, is to unpack the ritual and the tradition; to acknowledge my sinfulness; to spend time changing the way I live and become a better person (to become holier, but not holier than thou).