For some time, I treated the Lenten penance with the same reverent secrecy owed to a person’s parliamentary vote. You don’t broadcast your own! And you never ask about someone else’s!!
This is a fairly common attitude. It probably derives from the teaching of our Lord which is proclaimed every Ash Wednesday:
‘When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.’ (Mt 6:16-18)
But I’m no longer convinced that this advice justifies secrecy about one’s Lenten penances. Our Lord’s advice is more about avoiding self-righteousness and self-importance than proscribing strict secrecy.
People are interested in what other people do for Lent, and it can help them. Especially this week, when we’re all formulating our own resolutions. Lent has started already, but there are probably still a few laggers who haven’t decided yet.
So for their edification (and mine) tell us what you’re giving up — or adding to — this Lent, and why. If you’re worried that broadcasting your Lenten resolution will land you a few days extra in Purgatory, comment anonymously!
Here’s mine — just to set the ball rolling:
- I’m giving up alcohol because the one Lent I didn’t give it up, it felt like I didn’t give up anything much. (See qualification below.)
- I’ll give up milk in my coffee, but not coffee itself. Coffee is apostolic. It’s a good excuse to catch up with a friend and talk about the important stuff: life, philosophy, God! In fact, this Lent, I’ll try to drink more coffee than ever!
- I’m giving up Internet in the evenings. I’ll spend the time between dinner and bed reading a good book, or studying a little, or praying a bit extra. Anything but Facebook, e-mails, and blogging! (Supertradmum has a good post on “giving up noise for Lent.”)