I grew away from the church by the time I was in high school, and completely broke away from it in my mid-twenties. I did not baptize my kids in the Catholic Church. I did try because I thought it was important to my parents. As I could not agree to faithfully take my child to church every Sunday for the rest of her life, I was not allowed to do so. (I know of no parent these days who takes their child to church every Sunday. My kids weren't baptized, but at least I am not a hypocrite.)
Among a million other things I don't get about the Catholic Church, is this: The notion of giving up meat on Fridays as a sacrifice. First of all, as a kid, I didn't like meat anyway and I LOVED the frozen pizzas we had that night. Secondly, many people use meatless Fridays as an opportunity go out to dinner and have a fish fry and a cold beer. How exactly is that a sacrifice? My own dear mother would not eat meat on Friday, but would happily eat the shrimp in a basket that my father would bring home from his restaurant job. Again, a sacrifice or a treat? It shouldn't be so hard to tell.
I thought that the church had gotten away from the whole penance thing and started leaning more towards the whole giving thing. Perhaps, instead of giving up chocolate you could do something nice for someone else. Instead of
I have a friend who is very religious, extremely so. We have been friends since we were in kindergarten, although time and distance has certainly lessened its intensity. Still, we chat a bit here and there and I always love to hear from her. I respect her religious views because she doesn't just sound off on them, she seems to live them. She knows about the struggles I have with my health and my family and has prayed with me at times and even sent me a beautiful, homemade Rosary which I treasure.
Recently we started playing Words With Friends. It has been really nice for me. It is a good way to stay connected to my friends as I am still very much recovering from health issues and I am not out and about much. I have a quiet, kind of stressful life and little things like Words With Friends and Facebook keep me in the loop.
Yesterday my friend signed off mid-game and sent me a quick message: "See you after Easter, I am giving up Words With Friends for Lent".
It just felt so odd to me. Like, does it please God to see a woman stop playing a harmless game with her childhood friend, who is home dealing with health problems? How is that a Christian thing to do?
I just don't get it.
What I do get, is that there are people who are struggling and are not nearly as fortunate as I am, so today I am going to write a check to my local city mission. And I am going to make a commitment to do it beyond Lent because people are hungry year round.
Will you join me? Will you help me make Lent more about adding and less about subtracting? More about kindness and less about sacrifice? Will you think about how you could prepare for Easter in a loving, mindful way? Will you think about doing it, not only during the forty days of Lent, but the other 325 days of the year as well?
And if you play Words With Friends, will you add me? God won't mind. I promise.