Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Lent competition

Every year someone has to criticize everyone else for not doing enough for Lent. Usually they do it by comparing and contrasting the rest of us with their own righteous selves. I just read a post on another blog in which the author knocked people who enjoy a delicious meatless meal on Fridays and noted that his Friday meals are simple: soup and a  cheese sandwich typically and apparently not all that tasty. I was supposed to be edified but instead I thought, “Well, aren’t you a little snob.”


We don’t eat meat on Fridays throughout the year but I’m not proud of it and I don’t use my penance to put anybody else down. Some Fridays we have pasta, some Fridays it’s a grilled cheese sandwich and some Fridays it’s a big ole shrimp dinner. Rocky works very hard for nine or more hours a day, six days a week. A cold cup of lentils served in a cracked cup isn't enough to keep him fueled for the day.

 
Don’t judge other people because you think their penance isn’t big enough. The woman eating a lobster roll might also be spending her Lent by sleeping on the floor or taking ice cold baths or she might even stay up all night praying for….you. The man eating a flounder with macaroni and cheese, cornbread  and a beer might be a fireman who will be carrying 190 pounds of unconscious person out of a two story building tomorrow. You just don’t know and besides I’m sure that there is someone out there who can look at Mr. Smug blogger and his sandwich and mutter “Humph! I only have water and two saltines on Fridays, you slacker!"

7 comments:

Old Bob said...

When the rule was relaxed years ago, I went with it for a while and then, finding I wasn't really doing anything, went back to the meatless Fridays that were mandatory when I was a kid.
The trouble is that a tuna sub from Subway, or a veggie pizza from the local joint, just isn't a penance. They're too good.

sheepnamedcoco said...

Wonderful post. Thank you.
I am misquoting Flannery O'Connor here, but I believe she once said that the great Catholic sin was that of being smug.

Adrienne said...

This post brought a serious smile to my face and points out why I read so few "Catholic" blogs anymore. You are one of the better exceptions...

Anita Moore said...

My Friday "penance" is usually a delicious salmon fillet, courtesy of Costco's frozen foods section. For those of us who like fish, I think the real penance of abstaining on Fridays lies in not being able to reach for what's convenient, like hot dogs or baloney sandwiches.

And if eating a moldy crust of bread and a thimbleful of water turns a person into a pill, then that person should upgrade to a nice fish dinner, for the sake of those who have to deal with him. "Penance" means we do the penance ourselves, not impose it on others.

Karl said...

Well, he's right. If you eat a delicious meal on Friday you are completely missing the point. I as well have immediate negative thoughts about almost everything or everyone I see, but I never brag about it like you, because it is a shameful thing, especially when it occurs against someone who is better than me.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"The trouble is that a tuna sub from Subway, or a veggie pizza from the local joint, just isn't a penance. They're too good."

And when Cistercians got used to eating their fod with ashes, it was not penance, it was too good. Still a penance worth continuing!

Actually, having tasted goat cheese with ashes, I tend to believe St Bernhard on that one.

But he didn't see it as a problem, he saw it as grace of penance converting taste buds to where they should be.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"Lent competition" - would parish priest perhaps be the judge?