What are you giving up, and why?

What are you giving up, and why?

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.”)
Irish Lent
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Important qualification to my first resolution.

  • MuMu

    That’s quite a list, Fr John!
    I’m giving up the grog except for St Patrick’s Day when my 97-year-old chum and I will toddle down to the pub to have a suitable meal with a Guinness.
    I’m going to give up eating meat for four days in the week.
    That’s it. Any more deprivation and I’ll need to console myself with a steak and a large Merlot.
    Oh, and I’ll be spending quite a few hours in the week praying in front of a notorious “day procedure centre” for an end to abortion. It is a good penitential exercise. If you’re game, just Google 40daysforlife\melbourne.

  • Michaela

    I’m giving up alcohol – I totally agree with you John, it doesn’t feel like penance if you can still have a glass of wine!
    Bread – This will be hard because I LOVE my bread and would have it for every meal it were nutritionally viable.
    And I’m going to get up an hour and a half earlier every morning, say a prayer and start the day in a calm and organised manner rather than hitting snooze till 8 and running around like a headless chook.

  • mish

    giving up complaining… and all things with sugar.
    Not a good combination this year

  • Michelle

    I’m going to be more charitable in thought and word, especially toward those who have the tendency to annoy me.

    I am going to wake up right when my alarm goes off, even when it is very cold in the house.

    No candy, less internet (esp. in the morning).

  • Jessie

    This year I am giving up lollies. I decided that I would use lent as a good time to cut down my sweet tooth and put the money I would spend on them into the project compassion box on the prayer table in the classroom. A word of advice Fr John on giving up alcohol: Those beers you have at the end of lent will affect you much more then they ever did before (at least that was my experience last year)

  • lakelady

    Thanks to all for posting your Lenten sacrifices. It is inspiring.

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