Thoughts on Lent this Friday

I probably should have paid more attention in CCD and/or actually followed along at Sunday mass through the years. Being that I really didn’t, I’m now stuck in this limbo, or rather I have been for several years now where yes, I’m conflicted with believing in “God” fully and what that even has to do with sitting in church on Sundays. Or the idea of praying for guidance and whether you believe there is something greater out there even listening to you.

Thanks in part to some recent humbling and eye-opening experiences I’ve done things like pray the Rosary, something I dreaded sitting through as a kid and never thought I’d ever, ever do on my own. My outlook on religion has always been the idea that it can be overly cult-like and hey, I love my homosexual friends and believe in gay rights and marriage, two things the Catholic church is very much against. Moreover, growing up with a conservative Dominican,devote catholic grandmother who practices her religion religiously hasn’t helped sway my view.

I digress. I’ve decided to pray lately because I really do feel I have so much to be grateful for, most importantly my health and the love and presence of my family. Which brings me back to the thought of whether anyone’s listening when I’m praying for others? If I go to church will I be able to confirm that someone is listening? Anything I can do to make sure someone’s listening? It all seems so hollow. I guess you’re just supposed to believe and have this faith, and maybe that will fill in the blanks?

Religion is a tough one. I’m no “honk-if-you-love-jesus” type of pray-er, I just do want to believe that if someone has dictated our lives then I’d hope that when the things we consider bad, wrong, unfortunate come up that the powers that be may be able to help steer things right.

So I go to church on Ash Wednesday this week, because it’s what I do. I’ve always gotten my ashes. But this year I was truly praying for loved ones and listening to the mass. No matter what I believe, or don’t, I know that Lent is about us all being sinners, and we all are(!) in some form or another. Furthermore, the Lent season (40 days leading up to Easter) is about getting rid of sin by giving something up/sacrifice to become closer to your faith. This is why on Ash Wednesday when your ashes are applied the priest says,

“Remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return” or “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” It’s true and really sunk in for me: God or not, do not ever forget that your time on this earth is limited, and like the ashes on your forehead, you will die at some point in the future. Why bother living life in “sin”?

Be humble. Keep your faith… once you find it. Try not to Sin. Before you know it 40 days have passed and you’re on your way through Holy Week and Easter where as Catholics you are renewing your baptismal commitment; much deeper than I’d really like to get into right now. I just think that yes, sacrifice in the name of “sinning”, or bad habits if-you-will, is a great way to practice willpower and self-discipline.

Get through the 40 days and you’ll probably feel really great about yourself. I’m giving up coffee, Diet Coke, and alcohol for Lent, my three biggest demons. Drinking alcohol excessively (on the weekends) is surely a sin. Right?

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