Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent for Catholics and some other Christian denominations.
Our priest at Ohio State University joked that college students have made this their holy day of obligation. They all show up for Ash Wednesday and piously wear their ashes on their foreheads throughout the day. Good for them that they're not ashamed to have that black smear on their heads -- to proudly proclaim their religion.
On Facebook this morning, I noticed that a lot of people were declaring their Lenten sacrifices. As I read through the list, I couldn't help but wonder if Lent was a diet plan instead of a period of prayer and sacrifice.
A lot of people chose to give up pop or desserts or chocolate. Truthfully, is that going to bring people closer to their religion?
When the kids were younger, we used to give up things, like television. It wasn't a big sacrifice since we had the television in the basement and didn't watch that much of it.
Then we decided rather than giving something up, we would add something. We worked in the food pantry more regularly or tried to help other people more.
At around age 10, Tucker decided to do a good deed every day. Whenever we went some place, he would run ahead of us, hold the door open then proclaim his good deed done for that day.
I was thinking about Lent as I came home from my morning run. I could give up something, but that would probably make me grumpy.
I could commit to not missing mass during Lent, but I'll probably break that promise today because I don't see an Ash Wednesday service working into my schedule.
The thing I really need to do is reach out to the needy. The only volunteer work I do are those things that affect my kids. I've taught religious education throughout the years. I'm on the swim team parent board and I time at swim meets. I'm working on costumes for the school musical.
But I need to choose something that's outside my family and give some time to remember the true spirit of Jesus the man. I'm not setting a minimum number of hours. I'll do my best and try to remember that Lent isn't a time to work on my body, it's a time to work on my soul.
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