When I was a little girl at St. Michael the Archangel School in Levittown, PA. Lent was all about giving things up. Usually the students gave up candy.
Sometimes if we wanted to really be martyrs we gave up desserts
... except of course on Sundays because Sunday was the Lord's day and I guessed he loved banana cream pie and coconut cake. Many times our Moms even went without on Sunday too in the hopes that they could also give up a size before they bought a new Spring dress.
Sometimes our parents "suggested" we give up our Saturday afternoon double features.
(Thus saving the 50 cents they normally had to fork over.)
Hollywood even took notice of this and it was pretty rare that a big feature film was released during Lent.
Adults reverently chose this time to give up their Lucky Strikes and Camels. Many of them took the 35 cents a pack and added it to their weekly offering.
Others took the opportunity to stuff the piggy bank and
many chose to use the six weeks as the beginning of a smoke free life.
Others chose to give up their beer and cocktails for Lent. Good for the soul and the waistline too. And of course we all gave up meat on Fridays and other special days of the season.
The fact that Giving Up for Lent also frequently became a health benefit did not detract from the devout reasons we gave up these things . In those Pre Jenny Craig and Nutri System Days, we asked God's help in our personal Spring Cleaning.
Over the years many changes were made by the Church and by us. We looked at Lent differently in some cases if we looked at it at all. Some of us began to wonder if everything we had learned about religion had anything to do with faith. While I always knew that in my deepest heart, mind, and soul I was a Catholic, I felt a need to find my faith.
This year I decided it was time to return to my spiritual home. I've been thinking about it for a long time now as I've matured in my own beliefs and explored those of others. I found myself in a position of longing as I visited various denominations with my friends and experienced the way they worshiped God. What I saw was that they were as secure in their beliefs as I had been once upon a time. But While I felt welcomed by their community and often found wisdom in what their ministers and preachers had to say, I never felt comfortable.
Four things happened within a few months that made me sure it was time. First a friend, speaking about her own spiritual community, gave me the idea that we needed to each have an open mind about our own beliefs.
There was a sermon given by a very young, non-denominational preacher who asked the congregation. "Are you lonely? Do you long for a feeling of warmth and belonging? Then go home. Wherever home might be, go home, your Father is waiting for you."
Then we came to Tucson, a few weeks before Lent began, and our son invited us to go to the chapel in a Catholic hospital where a friend of his was the priest. My son introduced us briefly before Mass. In the first sermon, I heard this gentle priest give, he looked at us, smiled and said, "Welcome, to all of those who are visiting today from far away or who may have been away."
A few weeks later it was Lent. My daughter-in-law gave me a simple little black book with a brief daily devotional for Lent. It's not fancy and it's not intimidating but it has given me moments to think and re-think some of my ideas.
Leaving the hospital that first Sunday morning for breakfast at IHop, I rode with my son. While his wife rode with Jim. This has been the pattern ever since. And in a wonder-filled role reversal my son and his wife have given me a way back to my faith.
I haven't given up candy or desserts for Lent. I don't smoke or drink so I couldn't give up those.
(I also didn't give up any pounds.) But I did give up my blinders and I gave up searching for what has been in my heart all along.
No, this Lenten season has been much more a time of receiving for me and tomorrow is Easter Sunday. I genuinely believe I'm coming home.
Quote of the day:
The first step is to fill your life with a positive faith that will help you through anything. The second is to begin where you are.
Norman Vincent Peale
See ya down the road,